Just like the continents, the ocean floor has its own plains, valleys, mountains, and canyons. The size of them can be astounding. There are undersea mountain chains that run for miles, trenches deep enough to swallow up EarthÍs tallest peaks, and vast plains that seem to stretch to infinity. | QAI Publishing/UIG via Getty Images

$7 Million Xprize Competition Incentivizes Mapping of the World’s Oceans

Nineteen teams are competing for prize money and bragging rights over the best autonomous technology for surveying the vast, unknown areas of the ocean floor.

Published On 08/31/2017
12:00 PM EDT
A A ccording to even the most optimistic of estimates, only about five percent of the world's ocean floor has been mapped with any degree of detail. Since oceans cover roughly 70 percent of the planet, that means we've only really surveyed a small portion of the Earth's overall surface. We know more about the moon topographically than we do our own planet.