Exploring the unknowns of the ocean.

Our ocean, particularly deep ocean, is one of the least explored places on earth. We know just a fraction of what plants and animals live under the waves, and barely understand the complexity of ocean ecosystems. One part of this is because we haven’t spent as much time designing and building the sophisticated tools required for diving into the deepest parts of the sea as we have building space ships. That needs to change, and Sir Richard Branson wants to be a leading figure in that change. He has unveiled the Virgin Oceanic submarine, capable of diving into even the Mariana Trench. But this will be just one of five incredible trenches the submarine is set to explore…

VIrgin Oceanic is a five-journey proposal, which includes the Mariana Trench, the Puerto Rico Trench, the Diamantina Trench, the South Sandwich Trench and the Molloy Deep in the Arctic ocean.

The team will be Sir Richard Branson and Chris Welsh, an American explorer, and they’ll be working in conjunction with Scripps Institution of Oceanography as well as other top marine science programs. And the submarine is designed by Graham Hawks. The craft will be able to dive 37,000 feet, or about 7 miles deep (about as terrifying a trip as orbiting the moon) and will be made of carbon fiber and titanium to resist the extraordinary pressure. Also, the craft will be able to dive at a rate of 350 feet per minute, which seems quite fast and a round-trip venture to the bottom of the Mariana Trench would take about five hours.