20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Revealing Earth’s final frontier

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Revealing Earth’s final frontier

Event schedule details

Sunday 18 June


Event location details

Ondaatje Lecture Theatre

Royal Geographical Society

It’s been said that the ocean is the Earth’s final frontier for good reason. With telescopes, scientists can see objects in space that are 30 billion light years away from Earth. Closer to home, 90% of Mars and the entire Moon’s surface has been mapped. Yet fewer than 20% of Earth’s oceans have been.

How is it that more than 80% of the world's oceans and seafloor remain unexplored and unmapped since the Challenge Expedition in 1872, the first scientific expedition to explore them? How can technology help us better understand the oceans? What technologies exist now and what technologies might soon move out of the realm of science fiction? What are we hoping to find and what do we want to do when we find it? What do nations risk by not understanding the oceans, and what opportunities would a better understanding present for defence and security?

Join Britain’s first astronaut Helen Sharman for a panel discussion exploring manned submersibles, autonomous drones, sonar, satellite measurements, and other technologies that will help us go where no human has gone before.

Speakers include:

  • Commander Chris Lade has spent over 40 years in the field of underwater warfare. He joined Saab Dynamics 10 years ago as their underwater defence specialist looking at the defence application of commercial UUVs to the military domain.
  • Abi Wilson, Curator of Transport and Mobility at the Science Museum, who is responsible for the water and road transport and navigation collections. Covering everything from submarines to sledges, she spends her days thinking about the vehicles we use to get around and how they are adapted to and impact on the environment and our lives.
  • Professor Jenny Collier is an Earth scientist with broad interests in geology, geophysics, and geodynamics. She specialises in marine methods and often goes to sea on expeditions to collect data.
  • Commodore Michael Brasseur is Co-Chair of NATO's Maritime Unmanned Systems Innovation Advisory Board and leader of the US Navy’s Task Force 59. This team aims to rapidly integrate unmanned systems and artificial intelligence into operations in the navy’s 5th Fleet area of operations in the Arabian Gulf, technology that is eventually expected to be used in the likes of counterpiracy and maritime interdiction actions.

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Revealing Earth’s final frontier