How Satellites Mapped The Whole Ocean Floor

Scientists have been able to create a map of the ocean floor for the first time ever! How did they do it?

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What Do We Really Know About the Ocean Floor?

An interesting new study published in the journal Science used a technique known as gravity mapping to examine the ocean's topography. The researchers pulled data from two satellites in orbit, Cryo-Sat2 and Jason-1, measuring the distance from the satellites to the ocean surface. One of the major takeaways from the research was that certain parts of the ocean appeared to have a stronger gravitational force than others. This is likely explained by "mountain"-like features protruding from the ocean's floor. These areas have more massive, creating a stronger gravitational pull on the surrounding water. The hope for this and other research endeavors is to create a more fully-rendered map of the ocean's floor. According to the Scientific American, only .05 percent of the ocean has been mapped to the highest resolution possible. There's still so much to learn!

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Gravity map uncovers sea-floor surprises (Nature)
"As though someone had pulled a plug in the oceans and drained them away, a sea-floor map has exposed thousands of never-before-seen underwater mountains and ridges."

New Seafloor Map Reveals Secrets of Ancient Continents' Shoving Match (Live Science)
"Tectonic plates may have inched across the Earth's surface to where they are now over the course of billions of years, but they left behind traces of this movement in bumps and gashes under the sea."