The latest efforts of scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute have finally begun bearing fruit: Images of the ocean floor taken from depths never before seen by human eyes.
The first image, seen at right, was captured by a robotic submarine dubbed "Nereus" designed to operate within the Marianas Trench at depths of up to 11,000 meters below the ocean's surface.
Most interestingly, the vehicle ditches the restraints previously inherent to deep-sea divers (such as gigantic wire tethers and a free floating surface ship). Not only is it able to dive deeper than any vehicle ever created, it does so only relying on the team of researchers remotely piloting the craft.
It remains to be seen what exactly Nereus and the WHOI team can discover at these immense depths, but given that the vast majority of the planet's surface is covered in water there just has to be something cool down there.
(Image: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute)