Although many efforts are being made to find out more about other planets, most scientists have come to the conclusion that these efforts must be redirected to our oceans, and that is why a $7 million Ocean Discovery X Prize is offered to professionals and university students who develop robotic explorers capable of diving into the abyss.
This contest was announced on October 13, and 32 teams from 22 countries decided to jump on the bandwagon and tackle this challenge. This competition is made of two rounds, and the teams that win the first round receives a $1 million prize.
This prize can be split among 25 teams, because many projects could be good enough to go to the next round. During the first challenge, they have to gather and prepare all technical documentation about their projects and submit it in December.
The teams that qualify for the next stage have to create a robotic vehicle perfectly adaptable to the toughest ocean conditions. This vehicle must be able to descend up to 2,000 meters, map a minimum 20 percent of a 500 km2 area (5m resolution), and take pictures of geological, archeological, and biological features within 16 hours.
Maximum ten teams will qualify for Round 2, where they have to test their robotic explorers at a 4,000-meter depth, map fifty percent of the given area, and photograph ten important features within twenty-four hours.
The team which manages to get the best score will receive a 4$ million prize, whereas the second team will get a prize of $1 million. Furthermore, teams which will trace chemical and biological signals will receive a NOAA bonus $1million prize.
According to director Alan Leonardi from the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, ‘The goal of the $1M NOAA bonus prize is to aid NOAA’s marine resource management responsibilities by identifying technologies capable of detecting and tracking sources of marine pollution.’
He stresses that scientific research should be oriented not just towards discovering new marine creatures but also to preserve the existing ones until they don’t become extinct. These conservation efforts will tackle not just pollution, but maybe they will lead to a solution to deal with coral bleaching phenomenon as well.
Image Source: Dive Zone