Seven years of meticulous design and planning all came together on Monday March 26th, when James Cameron became the first human to make a solo trip to the deepest known point on earth - The Challenger Deep! More importantly though, he emerged safely seven hours later, complete with exciting photos and videos from this dark mysterious world that has previously been visited by only two humans!
Seated inside a specially built 12-ton lime green submersible called the Deep Sea Challenger, the brilliant filmmaker caught every moment of his 2 hour 36 minute journey down to the bottom of the Marianna Trench on video - Given that it is 120 times larger than the Grand Canyon and a mile deeper than Mount Everest, there was, lots to capture.
Then, came the big moment - The bottom of the ocean of the deepest part of the earth. Unlike his counterparts who visited the Challenger Deep in 1960 and saw nothing because of the silt stirred up by their capsule, Mr. Cameron's landing was smooth and view, crystal clear. So what did he see?
Absoutely nothing! There were no large alien creatures or mysterious footprints - Just a flat desolate, almost gelatinous landscape, 50 times larger than the Grand Canyon that Mr. Cameron describes as 'devoid of sunlight, devoid of any heat, any warmth'. The only things swimming around, were some tiny shrimp-like creatures no bigger than an inch.
While the 57-year old had expected to spend six hours at the bottom, he was forced to return in three, because the robotic arm that was supposed to help him collect samples malfunctioned and began leaking oil. He also lost some thrusters and a whole starboard side, causing the submersible to spin around in circles.
However, these minor setbacks did not make the whole trip any less exciting for Mr. Cameron. The director, who returned to the surface in a speedy seventy minutes, believes this is just one of many trips he and other adventurers will be taking. In fact, Sir Richard Branson the founder of the Virgin Group is currently in the midst of planning a similar trip to the Puerto Rico Trench that lies five miles below the surface of the water.
Mr. Cameron's only complaint was the discomfort of being wedged for seven-hours inside the cramped Deep Sea Challenger that stood only 24 feet tall and rotated at a speed of about 500 feet per minute. To make matters worse, the water pressure at the depth was so high (think 3 SUV's sitting on your toes!) that it pressed hard on the capsule and shrunk it by three whole inches. And if that was not enough, it was also freezing! The director said that when he left earth the temperature inside was a toasty 100° F and felt like he was in a sauna. However, as he plunged down, it dropped to 36°F and stayed there, for the duration of the trip.
Though Mr. Cameron's is promising to morph his historic trip into an exciting 3-D National Geographic documentary, he is tight-lipped about how the experience will be used in his next movie! We for one, cannot wait to see!
Resources: Dailymail.co.uk, news.yahoo.com, huffingtonpost.com