Oceans or Space: which do you think is more worth exploring?

The amount of money invested in space exploration worldwide far exceeds that put into ocean research.

Coastline at twilight
Looking at the horizon, the sea and sky appear to touch. There are many things we don’t know about both the deep ocean and space. Is one given more attention than the other?

The budgets of dedicated ocean exploration programmes such as the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are significantly lower than those of comparable space programmes such as NASA.

While distant galaxies have been charted, the best maps of the deep ocean that are currently available only chart 3 miles deep. Many ocean species have now gone extinct with more to follow.

I went out on the streets of Cardiff to investigate which area, space or ocean, people thought would be more worthwhile to invest in.

Neil, 51, Househusband

Middle aged man with child

“The oceans, because I think probably more money is put into exploring space, more is invested in that. We need to look at things closer to home. We could clean up the oceans a bit.”

Julie, 44, Local government officer

middle aged woman outdoors

“There’s so much of the ocean that we don’t even know about and I think it’s safer maybe to explore the ocean first rather than going to space. There’s so much that we don’t know, same as space though, but I think they should look to see what’s under the ocean first.”

Luke, 27, Chemistry PhD student

student outside university building

“There’s a lot that we don’t know about the ocean floors, considering that that’s closer to us. We could find some very important stuff down there, but I tend more towards space because I think we’ll need a route of escape at some point in the near future. It’s really important to have a plan B.”

Den, 50s, Civil servant

middle aged woman reading a book

“That’s a difficult one… I think the oceans, because I think that will have more of an impact on us as a world, more so than space. Will we have enough water in years to come?”

Shanea, 22, Promoter

young woman standing in street

“Oceans. I personally feel like it is something that we need to focus on now. Especially when you look at everything in regards of global warming and looking after the planet. We need to focus on something that we can actually help and space is great, and it’s cool, and it’s interesting but money should go to our ecosystems.”

Owen, 91, Retired

elderly man wearing poppy

“I would think the oceans. There’s a lot of life living there and I think we’ll benefit from it more than space. Space is unlimited. I would think we’d be better off spending money on the oceans. It’s more valuable. I don’t know whether we’d get any resource from space actually.”

Ashley, 24, Chemistry PhD student

male student outside university students union

“I think there’s potentially more useful things in space. While there’s a lot that is left in the oceans for us to find, there’s more chance of finding more resources and more new ways to help people in space than there is in the ocean while it would be more expensive and harder.”

Ebner, 20, Placement officer

young man in shopping centre

“I would probably say the oceans. Because it’s just so deep and so vast. You never know. It could potentially be bigger than what we actually think it is. Having watched Blue Planet it’s just so interesting to see the different creatures that are down there, different animals, different environments.”