Home Latest News Fact check: NASA continued ocean exploration after 1978 – USA TODAY

Fact check: NASA continued ocean exploration after 1978 – USA TODAY

Some social media users are sharing a YouTube video that claims NASA halted ocean exploration efforts in 1978.
The video features tranquil scenes of swimming sharks, fish and manta rays. A narrator says NASA began exploring the “deep sea” in 1958 and then stopped suddenly in June 1978. Thereafter, the video claims, NASA began working on “getting us off the planet.”
“Have you ever wondered why NASA stopped exploring the ocean,” asks the narrator. “What did they discover down there?”
A link to the video, which was posted on Facebook on Aug. 31, was shared more than 125 times, according to Crowdtangle, a social media metrics tool.
An Instagram version received nearly 50,000 likes in a week, but has since been deleted. 
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The claim in the video is false. NASA continues to explore the ocean, including the deep sea.
USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who shared the video for comment.
NASA spokesperson Peter Jacobs told USA TODAY that NASA has conducted ocean science research since the agency was founded.
“That includes field campaigns, remote sensing satellite observations and modeling studies,” he said in an email. “Specifically regarding exploration below the ocean surface, NASA has continued to be involved in this research, with … ship and sensor-based science involving the deeper ocean.”
NASA’s website also details the agency’s contemporary ocean research, including the SUBSEA project, which involves sending robotic missions into the deep sea.
This project is a collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other organizations. The goal is to gather data about particular deep sea environments, but also to simulate the deployment of similar robotic technology on other planets. 
The NASA website also includes another reason the agency conducts ocean exploration.
“Part of NASA’s mission is to develop an understanding of the total Earth system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment. Our oceans play a major role in influencing changes in the world’s climate and weather,” the agency says on its website. “The analysis of remotely-sensed ocean data makes it possible to understand the ocean in new and exciting ways.”
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While the video claims NASA stopped exploring the oceans in June 1978, that was actually when NASA launched its first dedicated oceanographic satellite, Seasat.
The satellite malfunctioned in October of that year, but NASA has continued to study the oceans from space since that time.
“Today there are several ocean-observing satellite missions and an extensive scientific research community studying these data,” NASA says on its website. “Each mission provides its own unique contribution to our knowledge of the ocean.”
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that NASA stopped exploring the ocean in 1978. The agency’s contemporary ocean research includes both satellite and deep sea robotic missions. 
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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.


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She has been writing columns on consumer gadgets for over 2 years now. Her areas of interest include smartphones, tablets, mobile operating systems and apps. She holds an M.C.S. degree from Texas A&M University.