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China's acoustic probe heard sound from the Mariana Trench

Understanding how sound travels in the deepest parts of the ocean could have military uses.
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cworthy via Getty Images

A team of Chinese scientists have completed the country's first acoustic test in the Mariana Trench, and the results could lead to a breakthrough in understanding how sound is transmitted in the deepest parts of the ocean. The researchers from Northwestern Polytechnical University in Shanxi province dropped and retrieved an acoustic probe into a valley at the southern end of the trench, which is about 11 kilometers (approximately 6.83 miles) under the surface.

The valley in question is the Challenger Deep, and is the deepest recorded point on the earth's seabed, according to the South China Morning Post. At such depths, sound is crucial for communication, since there is no light.

The researchers were able to hear sounds from the deepest part of the ocean and they've left six acoustic sensors in the trench to collect information about ambient sea noise for a year. These will be retrieved in November. This is the first such experiment for China, and its results could not only help understand how deep sea creatures communicate with sound, but could also have military applications.

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