By Kerry Sanders, NBC News Correspondent
ABOARD THE JEAN CHARCOT – As we continue to float two-plus miles above the wreck of the Titanic, there was a significant scientific development Friday.
The Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) nicknamed “Ginger” and “Mary Ann” that were launched earlier this week to crisscross the ocean floor and retrieve information have now come home to the ship.
They left on a pre-determined route: “Ginger” traveled north and south and “MaryAnn” traveled east and west.
As they traveled about 40 yards above the sea bed, following a pattern like “mowing the yard,” the two AUV’s fired outside-scan-sonar.
Woods Hole Oceanographic teams working with the Waitt Institute, which owns the AUV’s, have now downloaded the side-scan sonar.
The picture that is emerging is a first of its kind, stunning image of the five-mile, by three-mile area where the Titanic came to rest.
The images are color-coded, but with some expert input, what you may not see at first glance becomes quite obvious.
Titanic expedition leader David Gallo says this is an “awesome” moment.
He and his team knew the Titanic broke into two pieces, but nobody realized the debris field was a large as it is.
Upwards of 40 percent of the area where the Titanic sank has never been mapped or documented – until now.
Up next: 3-D images. If all goes according to the plan, those images will come to the surface by Saturday morning.
This underwater geology is science you can clearly follow with a good expert, so click on the video to follow what the maps mean.