Deepsea Challenge Update: Waiting For Calm Seas

Sapphire captains logs

Last Friday I posted a story about James Cameron’s attempt to dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, which is the lowest point on our planet at 10,912 meters (35,800 ft) below the surface of the ocean. Considering that there was a lot of interest in Mr. Cameron’s little journey, I thought I’d follow-up with some news today.

When I first wrote about the Deepsea Challenge it wasn’t clear exactly when Cameron would attempt the dive, although we did know that he intended to do it soon. The Hollywood director and his crew are racing to beat four other teams, including one sponsored by Richard Branson, to the bottom of the sea and after completing the testing phase of their submersible, a specially designed vehicle named the Deepsea Challenger, they are eager to get underway. With that in mind, earlier this week the team left Guam and have proceeded to the South Pacific where they are anxiously awaiting calm seas and good weather to begin the long and perilous journey to the depths of the ocean. You can read the Captain’s Logs on the conditions by clicking here.

And just how perilous is this journey? Cameron will be making a solo dive inside the Challenger to seven miles below the surface. At that depth the ocean exerts 1000 times more pressure than it does at sea level, which is strong enough to crush anything not specifically built to resist those conditions. He’ll be going where only two other men have ever gone – those two men being ocean explorers Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard who did it back in 1960. Yep, the journey is so dangerous that it has only been done once before and that was 52 years ago.

While he’s down there, Cameron intends to collect a number of samples for use in a variety of scientific research. He’ll also be shooting the entire voyage in high definition 3D which will be used in an upcoming documentary and possibly even for some scenes in Avatar 2. When Walsh and Piccard visited the bottom of the trench, they weren’t able to see much at all, let alone bring back quality film footage. Technology has improved dramatically since then however, and we can expect some stunning visuals when the film is eventually released.

Stay tuned for more updates. It sounds like the dive could happen any day now. When it does, it’ll take nine hours both directions and Cameron is planning on staying at the bottom for as many as five hours as well. I get the feeling he won’t be the only one holding his breath until he returns to the surface.

Kraig Becker