Center For Ocean Sciences Education Excellence COSEE TEK
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James Cameron - Movie director, deep sea pioneer - 03.26.2012

Two thumbs up
Filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence James Cameron gives two thumbs-up as he emerges from the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible after his successful solo dive to the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean. The dive was part of DEEPSEA CHALLENGE, a joint scientific expedition by Cameron, the National Geographic Society and Rolex to conduct deep-ocean research. Photo by Mark Thiessen/National Geographic.
deepsea challenger
The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible begins its first 2.5-mile (4-km) test dive off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The sub is the centerpiece of DEEPSEA CHALLENGE, a joint scientific project by explorer and filmmaker James Cameron, the National Geographic Society and Rolex to conduct deep-ocean research. Photo by Mark Thiessen/National Geographic.
On March 25, 2012, James Cameron became the third person ever to reach the deepest part of our ocean Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench (35,756 ft/10,898 m) in the bullet-shaped submersible DeepSea Challenger. The DeepSea Challenger was strategically designed to expedite the descent to about 2 ½ hours, leaving about 6 hours for Cameron to document and collect samples. On touching bottom, Cameron noted very little life and after spending nearly 3 hours in the extreme environment (pressure = 16,000 pounds per square inch), Cameron noticed hydraulic oil leaking through the viewport and judiciously called an end to the dive. Members of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE project view this historic dive as just the beginning to the next phase of deep-sea exploration and have plans for the deployment of an unmanned lander to bait deep-sea predators and scavengers.

In 1960, U.S. Naval lieutenant Don Walsh and French oceanographer Jacques Piccard were the first to pioneer this voyage in the Trieste bathysphere, spending nearly nine hours cramped together in a tiny sphere yet only 20 minutes on the bottom. Minimal time and limited technology afforded Walsh and Piccard little opportunity to document the hadal ecology and no samples were collected. Nevertheless, the voyage paved the way for deep-sea submersible technology eventually leading to the construction of Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute’s Alvin submersible.

For detailed information, video, and images, please visit the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE website.

challenger deep map
Map of Challenger Deep location in the Mariana Trench (Credit: COSEE-TEK/Google Earth)

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