The deep ocean is the most inhospitable and mysterious environment on Earth and now Virgin Oceanic and Google plan to make its wonders accessible to all.
You may have heard about the swash buckling adventures to be undertaken by Virgin Oceanic - visits to the bottom of the deepest parts of the oceans of the world. What you might not have noticed is that in the future we can all join in. The data from video cameras taken down on the five planned dives will be fed back to Google Earth and used to create a 3D deep sea virtual mirror.
At the moment there are some undersea features that you can visit using Google Earth but the coverage is patchy and the resolution is low compared to the surface model. The Virgin Oceanic data will add high definition data for the Mariana Trench (Pacific), Puerto Rico Trench (Atlantic), Diamantina Trench (Indian), South Sandwich Trench (Southern), and Molloy Deep (Arctic) - some of the most interesting and least known deep sea features on the planet.The Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Pacific, is intended to be the first dive location some time later this year. A 19km fly-by along the bottom of the trench will provide the same virtual experience once uploaded to Google Earth.
As Sir Richard Branson said at the launch, more men have been to the moon than have ventured further down than 20,000 feet. As long as everything goes according to plan, the entire population should be able to experience a trip to the bottom of the oceans - if only virtually courtesy of Google Earth.