James Cameron’s Deep-Sea Challenge

On march 25, 2012 James Cameron with his DEEPSEA CHALLENGER dove to 7 miles beneath the ocean.  Down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench,  the last time we were here with humans was with Trieste a two-man sub about the size of a bus.   The problem with the Trieste was the decent time to reach the bottom took 5 hours, once there the team only had 20 minutes to collect data and photos but the sub stirred up the ocean bottom so visibility was zero.

In the 1990s, the Japanese-built Kaiko, an unmanned, robotic submersible, made several trips to nearly 7 miles.   In 2009, the Nereus also an unmanned vehicle, made its inaugural trip to the Challenger Deep. Built by engineers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Nereus can collect rocks, animals, and water samples and can transmit high-quality video to the surface through a hair-thin fiber-optic cable.

The Trieste was retired, and in 2003 and the Kaiko was lost at sea during a typhoon.  So today only the Nereus and the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER are the only subs capable of reaching these depths.  DEEPSEA CHALLENGER  was secretly built-in Australia, in partnership with National Geographic and with support from Rolex.  Participating in the research and development of the craft and mission include Scripps Institution of Oceanography,  Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Hawaii.   The crucial structural elements, such as the backbone and pilot sphere that carried Cameron, were engineered by a Tasmanian company,  Finite Elements.

This is like sending a man to the moon, at this depth the pressure outside the sphere is at 8 tons per square inch and the water temperature lowers to 32 degrees Fahrenheit which is zero Celsius.   The bottom of the ocean at this depth is like the  lunar landscape, uninhabitable by humans and only been there about as many times as the moon.  National Geographic will be putting a film together soon of this expedition and the clock is ticking for other teams to do the same.

Others involved, the race to the bottom:

From Wikipedia:

As of February 2012, several other vehicles are under development to reach the same depths.

Triton Submarines, a Florida based company that designs and manufactures private submarines, whose vehicle, Triton 36000/3, will carry a crew of three to the seabed in 120 minutes.

Virgin Oceanic, sponsored by Richard Branson‘s Virgin Group, is developing a submersible designed by Graham HawkesDeepFlight Challenger, with which the solo pilot will take 140 minutes to reach the seabed.

DOER Marine, a San Francisco based marine technology company established in 1992, that is developing a vehicle, Deepsearch (and Ocean Explorer HOV Unlimited), with some support from Google’s Eric Schmidt with which a crew of two or three will take 90 minutes to reach the seabed, as the program Deep Search.

Deepest Point

But The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER is first and I’m sure more to come.

Video uploaded by U Tube user 

Mariana Trench


Seven miles is a long way down… more than a mile deeper than Mt. Everest is up. To reach the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, James Cameron will descend past some pretty amazing milestones.  Here’s a glimpse.


Video uploaded by U Tube user 

Virgin Oceanic

HD Quality Teaser Trailer of Virgin Oceanic’s flagship sub! Disclaimer, this is simply an animation of the sub’s potential capabilities, and in no way should be assumed to reflect a real mission.  The race is on!

Video uploaded by U Tube user 


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