Nearly 70% of our planet’s surface consists of water. Right now, we just have around 5 to 7% of that vast area mapped properly. It might sound a bit surprising, but it’s true that we have more comprehensive maps of the surfaces of Mars and Moon than we have of the ocean floor.
Now, XPRIZE, a nonprofit foundation that manages and designs public competitions for the betterment of mankind, has launched an ocean challenge, which will most likely draw the attention of hobbyists, geologists and marine scientists around the globe. It’s basically a three-year global competition focusing on ocean mapping. As a result of having a hefty prize purse of $7 million and offering the opportunity of winning the illustrious title “XPRIZE Winner”, this new ocean challenge might push technologies used for driving ocean exploration.
Dr. Jyotika Virmani, who is a Senior Director at XPRIZE, said that the newly announced competition other than being quite challenging technically, is also extremely interdisciplinary. She added that the challenge involves computer science, underwater robotics, digital imagery and more. Dr. Virmani and her colleagues are expecting to see people adopting a wide range of approaches to complete the job of ocean mapping.
It has been specified by the organization that the participants will need to complete a series of tasks using devices that will have to be launched either from the air or the shore and can be operated up to 4,000 below the sea level. Some of the tasks that the participants will need to finish include creating a high-resolution map of the seafloor, pointing our key features in a treasure hunt kind of venture, and capturing high definition photos of certain objects.
Other than the main challenge, there’s also a bonus challenge of $1 million for technology capable of monitoring specific biological and chemical compounds present in water. This additional challenge is a way of finding technologies for sniffing out different specified objects in the ocean.
This latest challenge by XPRIZE is actually a part of the nonprofit’s Ocean Initiative. The ocean mapping challenge is the 3rd entrant in a list of five multimillion dollar challenges the organization has planned to launch by the end of this decade for addressing serious ocean challenges and inspiring innovations for creating a healthy, well-understood and valued ocean.