James Cameron, the Academy Award winning director of films like Titanic, Avatar, and The Abyss, doesn’t keep his drive for thrills and exploration contained to his filmmaking. And on Sunday, Cameron reached the deepest point in the ocean, The Challenger Deep.
The Mariana Trench, a giant opening in the Earth’s crust located in the western Pacific Ocean, is a little over 43 miles wide and 1,500 miles long. One if its most compelling features, however, is that it houses the deepest point in the ocean, a full 6.8 miles below the surface.
If you put the Earth’s tallest mountain, Mt. Everest, into the Mariana Trench, you’d still have to travel a mile down to even touch its peak. The bottom of the trench is freezing and pressure-packed (8 tons per square inch). That’s about 1,000 times the pressure at sea level. And as part of the DeepSea Challenge, Cameron reached the bottom yesterday after a 2 hour and 36 minute descent. He’s the first to ever do it solo.
And when he arrived at the deepest point, one of the first things Cameron did was tweet about it. Check out the tweet, which I guess is the record-holder for deepest tweet ever. Most-pressurized tweet ever. Something like that:
It’s a wonder that Cameron was able to tweet at all, considering the “cozy” confines of his “pilot chamber.” The spherical chamber in the DeepSea Challenger is just 43 inches wide, and Cameron had to keep his knees bent the entire time.
The dive wasn’t only for James Cameron’s adventure seeking, but for science as well. Along with the sure to be amazing video footage from the dive, Cameron also collected samples from the bottom of the trench, analysis of which will be published in National Geographic.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen was there, providing a play-by-play of the sub’s ascension:
#DeepseaChallenge Pressure at bottom is 16,285 Pounds per square inch at that depth. Design pressure was 16,500 …Yikes/Amazing!
#Deepseachallenge sub coming up rapidly, Octopus helo orbiting above filming…supposedly shoots to surface like a breaching whale.
He snapped this pic of the sub surfacing:
Cameron isn’t the only wealthy celebrity that has taken an interest in deep sea exploration. Virgin’s Richard Branson is planning on traveling to the bottom of the Atlantic later this year with his Virgin Oceanic project. He had a lot to say about Cameron’s historic solo mission:
@VirginOceanic‘s better at exploring. Great teamLots to see deep down – 80% of species undiscovered! Jim’s sub is good at diving & filming,
In a blog post, Branson congratulated Cameron but also took the opportunity to discuss his upcoming project:
Laying seven miles beneath the western Pacific Ocean, the Mariana Trench is one of the least accessible places on earth. Jim deserves all the hearty congratulations that come his way in the next few days. His solo trip of over two hours to the ocean floor in his Deepsea Challenger is a mighty achievement.
His success has only added to the excitement surrounding our upcoming Virgin Oceanic voyage to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean later in the year. The Puerto Rico Trench is the deepest place in the Atlantic and is deeper than Mount Everest is high, and with it not being previously explored it should prove to be quite an adventure.
We’ll know more about what Cameron found down there in the coming weeks. His initial reports from a press conference paint a picture of a desolate, unforgiving landscape.
What do you think about Cameron’s achievement? Do you think, like Richard Branson, that deep sea exploration is worthwhile and vital to “mankind’s development?” Let us know in the comments.