The Unfathomable Deep Space and Seas

Pius Lee

Follow the Money

Man is an adventurous creature.  In the pre-pandemic year of 2019 the US travel and tourism industry generated 1.9 trillion dollars in economic output. That was a startling 9% of the nation’s corresponding GDP of 21.38 trillion dollars in 2019. This astronomical amount of money spent by tourists globally will exponentially increase as space and deep sea tourism begin to enter into the arena of exotic adventures. Money invested and money spent reflects the heart of man.

Space tourism is expected to be viable in terms of garnering a sizable customer base especially for near-earth suborbital, orbit, and lunar space flights. People are paying exorbitant amounts of money to take a glimpse of our planet from outer space — the only known beautiful blue crystal planet in the universe.

Zero Margin of Error

Mother Earth is meticulously designed and destined to provide a thriving environment for mankind to enjoy and multiply in population. Man’s intellect also reflects the inborn instinct and ability God has bestowed on man. God has assigned mankind to be His steward delegated to manage and subdue the remainder of His creation. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). It has been a daunting task for man, since it was thus succinctly commanded by God. Nonetheless, it is a manageable task as all the necessary and sufficient conditions of a happy life have already been satisfied when planet earth was created to suit and meet the survival of man and the many creatures that mankind was to subdue and take care of. The stunning accurate orbit, geometrical and geophysical perfections of the planet Earth that permits life to survive and thrive allows no dispute about its intellectual design. There must have been immense calculations of motion kinematics and its radiative-balances presumed in its design culminating habitability.

As a weather forecasting scientist, I can testify to the chill of fear that daily shoots up my spine knowing that the favorable conditions for a habitat home is not always a given. Storms and natural disasters can abruptly arise and disrupt lives for many. Those obvious noticeable adversities of storms, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and tsunamis are probably a few most feared natural disasters that mankind has come to learn to fear. Besides these obvious ones, there are many more impactful and harmful phenomena that are hostile to the existence of man. In foretelling the adverse impact of severe weather, a forecaster must study all strata of the atmosphere of planet Earth. Measuring from the Earth’s surface, the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and the exosphere occupy altitudes at their corresponding cut-offs at 15 km, 50 km, 90 km, 350 km and 150,000 km.  The troposphere is the lowest atmospheric stratum where a great majority of the storms and their harmful impact is being felt. The stratosphere houses the ultraviolet sunlight absorbing ozone layer that filters out most of the detrimental effect of that spectrum of the sunlight which harms man and other living organisms. The mesosphere and those atmospheric strata above also serve as benevolent filters against the penetration of the solar wind. The solar wind consists of ionically charged particles burst from the sun towards the planet Earth with a stunning speed of millions of km per hour. Our nation’s space weather agency and space defense force are constantly monitoring and mitigating the potential harm of these ionic onslaughts of the solar wind. The sunspot count of solar flares is a good indicator of the solar wind storms that may cause interferences on wireless communications.

School of jacks patrol the reef. | Credit: OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP)

Deep Sea Explorations

Adventurousness and tourism are both God given and divinely virtuous. A few conspicuous examples of the forerunners of space exploration are stargazers such as Johannes Kelper (1571-1630), Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), and Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727). They were all devout Christian scientists who explored for a deeper knowledge of God.

It is ironic that man looked to outer space for an expansion of his horizons for millennia. The exploration of the deep oceans came much later and arguably started in the late 19th century. The time contrasts of mankind’s outer-space and ultra-deep-ocean explorations illustrate exactly the scientific challenges associated with the explorations.  Material science lays at the crux of the deep-sea exploration challenges. Water is 800 times heavier than air.  Nowadays, the deepest possible human dive is about 700 meters. The diver must wear an atmospheric diving suit (ADS) with a futuristic looking copper hat weighing 16 plus kg. The water pressure exerted on the diver at the depth of 700 m sea water is more than 1000 pounds per square inch (psi). The psychological and emotional pressure on the diver is even more unimaginable than the physical pressures. The risk is immense. Any mishap will certainly result in an injurious harm to the diver. Our memory is of course soberly reminded by the recent implosion of the Titan Submersible that presumably killed all five passengers instantly as the crushing deep sea pressure collapsed it at about 3500 meters depth. If a scientist is challenged to extend its reach to the unfathomable deep in outer-space, its challenge will mainly lie in human longevity, sustainability of life in vacuum, and the astronomical distances between planets, stars and galaxies. However, in the unfathomable depths of the oceans of our planet Earth, it will lie in the breakthroughs in material sciences that can withstand the crushing water pressures. In addition, there are the human aspects of emotional strengths surviving in the dead-silence of the underworld and the psychological tenacity of coping with fear of facing death moment by moment.

Marine Lives in 10,000 meters Under

In the last two decades, the National Geographic’s office in Washington D.C. had successfully developed and dispatched a deep-sea camera[1]  to capture and retrieve pictures taken in the deepest ocean of the planet: the Mariana Trench 2200 km east of the Philippines, at about 10,000 meters depth. The deployed electronic camera is housed and sealed in a vacuum glass ball of the perfect sphere. In its multiple deployments, it took the tethering system more than one day each time to lower the camera. Multiple layers redundant safety features were built-in for its release and float-back systems so that a smooth and dampened ascent of the camera was assured. At that deepest point of the oceans, the water pressure was mind-boggling, described as 50 jumbo jets heaped on top of a person standing upright!  Amazingly, the camera reported and recorded marine lives existed in those bearably fathomable depths of our mother Earth!

Our Benevolent Oceans

The deep oceans have many deep gorges. The minerals and terrestrial materials from these oceans contain precious nutrients and minerals for the vast marine lives that sustain our existence. Without the oceans our mother Earth can neither be a mother nor an earthly habitat. Mankind often thought the mother Earth is a lenient giant that has limitless potentials and patience. It is a misconception. Man is beginning to realize and regret as the dire consequences of abusing the oceans becomes more evident day by day. Coral bleaching, ocean plastic pollution, and the accelerated frequencies of occurrences of El Niños are some of the warning signs oceanographers and marine scientists are warning us. Mankind should revere the unfathomable depths with respect and studiousness to thoroughly understand the sensitivities of the planet’s oceanic mother-nature. Mankind should learn to be grateful to the intellectual original design of our heavenly Father. “God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good.”(Gen 2:10). “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”(Gen 2:28). The ebbs and tides of the oceans and the large lakes are nutrient pumping machines that constantly replenish the shallower waters with the deep water minerals and nutrients. This daily clock of ebbs and tides faithfully benefited mankind since the beginning of times. Cool waters in the deep oceans are more nutrient laden than the warmer waters. The periodic upwellings of cool water to the spawning regions of the oceans is critical for fishery. These periodic upwellings of cool waters from the deep oceans is one of many benevolent machineries and clocks mother Earth ticks. Mother Earth’s benevolent clocks unceasingly ticks for mankind. We should appreciate it rather than tempering with it in ignorance and irresponsibility.


Author: Pastor. (Dr.) Pius Lee is the Director of the Development Division of NYSTM. In 2021, he retired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States, and was selected the winner of NOAA’s Administrator’s Award for the Air Pollution Forecasting Research Group in 2020. Pastor Lee and Mrs. Ancy Thuyen-Anh, Lee have three sons and one daughter. The couple relocated from the capital, Washington, to New York to take up the post.

[1] Mr. Derrick Cheung was a retired technical employee of the office instrumental in its successful design.

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