James Cameron visits Challenger Deep

Date:1 July 2012 Tags:, ,

On 25 March, James Cameron became the third person ““ and the only one travelling solo ““ to visit Challenger Deep, 10,9 km below the western Pacific Ocean’s surface. With the help of the Australia-based Acheron Project, the director engineered the Deepsea Challenger, a one-of-a-kind vertical-descent submersible equipped with HD 3D cameras, tools to gather scientific samples, and specially designed batteries housed in plastic cases filled with silicon oil.

Instead of building the sub out of steel and using foam to make it neutrally buoyant, Acheron created a new syntactic foam – epoxy resin containing hollow glass microspheres – that serves as the main structural material. Cameron sat in a 6,3 cm-thick, 109 cm-diameter steel sphere, where he controlled the sub with joysticks. Deepsea Challenger reached the bottom in 2,5 hours with the help of 450-plus kilograms of steel weights.

Cameron had to resurface after three hours on the sea fl oor because of a hydraulic leak – he flipped a switch to jettison the weights and ascended in 70 minutes – but by and large, the sub performed as planned. “Yeah, your life is at risk any time you go into a hostile environment like that,” he told POPULAR MECHANICS last year. “But you trust the engineering.” – Erin McCarthy

James Cameron’s sub was only the second craft to reach Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Here, we show the maximum diving depths of sea creatures and other objects of underwater exploration.

200-275 m US Navy submarines (est.)
300m scuba diver
600m hard-suit diver
1 000 m MIDNIGHT ZONE: the only light comes from the creatures there
1 500 m elephant seals
2500 m Sperm whales
3 800m depth of Titanic wreck
4 050 m FNRS-3
4 500 m Alvin
4 791 m depth of Bismarck wreck
5 030 m fangtooth fish
6 000 m Mir submersibles
6 000 m HADAL ZONE
7 700 m snailfish
8 543 m height of Mount Everest
10 911 m Trieste
10 944 m Deepsea Challenger

World’s deepest tweet @JimCameron
“Just arrived at the ocean’s deepest pt. Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can’t wait to share what I’m seeing w/you.”

Video: James Cameron breaks a world record for the deepest solo dive

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