James Cameron completes solo dive to deepest oceanic point

26 Mar 2012

Location of Challenger Deep within the Western Pacific Ocean. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Movie director and oceanic explorer James Cameron has become the first person to carry out a 11km descent to the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep, the deepest-known point of planet Earth’s oceans, in a solo sub mission where he collected scientific data and specimens.

The only other unmanned dive to Challenger Deep took place in 1960.

National Geographic
reported how Cameron, whose most notable works include Avatar, Titanic and Aliens, broke the surface of the western Pacific in his ‘vertical torpedo’ submarine before 8am Guam time, or 10pm ET. He emerged near the Pacific island of Guam.

Cameron’s descent to Challenger Deep took two hours and 36 minutes, but his ascent to the ocean surface took just 70 minutes. National Geographic said his submarine was seen bobbing in the ocean by a helicopter and was then taken from the sea by a research ship’s crane.

He had been encased in a cockpit in the submarine that was just 43 inches wide. A medical team was also on hand to assess the Canadian-born movie director after his pioneering and cramped solo adventure.

“Jim came up in what must have been the best weather conditions we’ve seen, and it looks like there’s a squall on the horizon,” said Hand, a NASA astrobiologist and National Geographic emerging explorer, as reported in National Geographic.

While he was plunged to the depths of the underwater world, Cameron apparently hovered over Challenger Deep’s desert-like seafloor and took samples and videos. He is expected to give more details about the mission later today.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic