We all know that only 5% of our oceans have been explored. Humans have inhabited the earth for so long now, advancing yearly in technology and resources, so why has so little been explored? I think we found something in that 5% that made us want to, essentially, get off the planet.

When you google why we have only explored 5%, a lot of scientific explanations come up. The main reason, or excuse as I would say, is that it’s not possible to see very far in open, deep water. Another excuse is that the pressure in the ocean is too intense. At the surface, these explanations truly do make sense. When I sat down to really think about it though, these reasons didn’t sit right with me.

When it comes to the pressure of the ocean, I could see this being a problem with free-diving. But, I don’t see how this is an issue when we have submarines that are capable of traveling to extreme depths. The depth of just the Caribbean is about 2,200 meters. The average submarine only travels to depths of 800 meters. There has been one submarine though, in the Mariana Trench near Guam in the Pacific ocean, that was able to travel down to 10,911 meters. This submarine was an Italian-built, Swiss-designed submarine named the Trieste. The beam of this specific vessel was about 11.5 feet. Though this isn’t very far in comparison, I think it’s far enough to see what is directly in front of you.

The timeline of this vessel is what stood out to me the most. It was launched on Aug. 26, 1953. Five years later, in July of 1958, NASA was founded. That same year, the Trieste was sold and bought by none other than the US Navy. As far as I know, the month in which the US bought the Trieste is unknown — or unrecorded. So, it’s possible that we founded NASA after buying the vessel.

I found this weird because the US Navy designed and created a new cabin for the vessel shortly after owning it. This new cabin made it so the vessel could go even deeper in the ocean, holding the record of the most depth traveled until 2012. So, we get this submarine that can travel to extreme depths, and the same year create a space program?

The Trieste now inhabits a home in an exhibit at The Washington Navy Yard. The US bought this submarine, added to it, reached a world record in depth and then put it in a museum exhibit. I genuinely believe we found or saw something down there that made us never want to explore that deep into the ocean again.

The ocean itself has numerous conspiracy theories attached to it. There are videos that circle the internet of what looks like gigantic tentacles breaching the water. There are videos of women with fishtails and pictures of skeletons that resemble what we’d say mermaids look like. The possibility of the megalodon still existing resurfaces every year for Shark Week — supported by giant carcasses that float ashore of whales or sharks that are bitten in half. Some even believe aliens live down there.

So whatever that “thing” — or “things” — could’ve been has multiple theories behind it. Whatever it was, was scary enough to get us to leave those depths of the ocean alone and try our chances with outer space. Even now, decades later, little is being done to continue to research the ocean despite having more advanced technology than we did back in the 1950s.

Rumor has it… NASA wanted off the planet.

Lauren is a senior at UTK this year majoring in journalism. She can be reached at lreid9@vols.utk.edu.

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