"More than 80 percent of the world’s oceans are currently unmapped, but a $7 million prize pool to explore the deep sea hopes to change that. The Ocean Discovery XPrize was [recently] awarded to teams using uncrewed deep-sea vehicles to map the ocean floor and trace chemical signals underwater. The goal is to develop a comprehensive atlas by 2030. ... A comprehensive map of the world’s oceans may uncover new species and materials, and find old shipwrecks, says Jyotika Virmani, XPrize’s Ocean Discovery director. 'The deep sea is the world’s largest museum, and we don’t have access to it right now,' she says. Exploring is made notoriously difficult by extreme conditions such as darkness, high pressure, and cold.
"A $1 million bonus prize was also up for grabs for entrants to develop a vessel that could detect a chemical signal – a marine-safe coloured dye – and autonomously track it back to its source. The winning team was Ocean Quest, made up of high school students from San Jose, USA, although their vessel couldn’t sniff out signal back to the source within the allowed timeframe. Virmani says the technology could be used to track fish populations or invasive species. It could also be used in search and rescue missions, such as after planes crash into the ocean."
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