Fledgling Aquanaut Richard Branson Teams Up with Google Earth

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More details are coming out about billionaire-adventurer Richard Branson and his planned forays into the ocean’s deepest nether regions.

According to the LA Times, Branson’s 20-foot Virgin Oceanic vessel will be feeding previously unseen topographical data back to Google Earth, the free 3D mapping software that lets users do cool things like watch interactive Arcade Fire videos, or go, “Hey, that’s my house!”

In an email to the LA Times, Google rep Anne Espiritu had this to say:

“Our mission for Google Earth is to create a virtual mirror of the world and help users learn and understand about the world they live in, including the oceans. With this expedition, we hope to better understand the unique conditions and ecosystems that exist in the oceans and share them with the world through Google Earth.”

On Branson’s five planned dives, he’ll be accompanied by Chris Welsh, a pilot and entrepreneur from Orange County, CA. The first excursion is set to take the fledgling aquanauts nearly 36,000 feet down into the Mariana Trench — the deepest point on Planet Earth.

Despite recent lawsuits disparaging Google over their streetview initiative and how it infringes on bystander privacy, you got to give Google credit here. Their goal of documenting the Earth — even the parts a normal person would never normally be able to get to (unless you were, say, A BILLIONAIRE) — is really something to be admired.

Watch footage of the project below:

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