On March 26th, 2012, the neon green submersible Deepsea Challenger reached the deepest part of Earth’s seabed, 35,800 feet below sea level in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean. If you were to place Mount Everest at the bottom of this trench here, at the Challenger Deep, there would still be 6,000 feet between its summit and the ocean’s surface.
The Deepsea Challenger is the first single-pilot vessel to dive to the utmost depths, and that single pilot is James Cameron, director of the two highest grossing movies of all time in Titanic and Avatar,and an explorer-in-residence at National Geographic who’s made over 80 submersible dives and led eight deep ocean expeditions. Cameron recorded this, his deepest dive, and the result is arriving in theatres this month as Deepsea Challenge 3D, a new feature-length 3D documentary.
Deep History: Where Few Have Dared To Tread
Only one other human-manned submersible has ever touched the bottom of Challenger Deep. In 1960, the Trieste, a bathyscaphe (a self-propelled vehicle that functions a lot like an underwater blimp),carried Swiss oceanic engineer Jacques Piccard and Lt. Don Walsh of the U.S. Navy on the nearly seven-mile journey straight down to the ocean floor. The Trieste was not equipped to collect samples or even image the area—nor would it have mattered, as the landing stirred up murky silt that obscured the sub’s view, and they could only stay 20 minutes because the descent and ascent took so long. “It was like looking into a bowl of milk,” Walsh said.
High costs and higher danger kept governments away from the Challenger Deep for over 50 years. But over the last few decades, some adventuresome individuals have taken matters into their own hands. Cameron’s expedition was first to make it back to the bottom.
For full article and video, click here.