This Sunday, March 25, while we were watching Mad Men or LARPing or whatever it is we do, James Cameron piloted a submersible alone to the very bottom of the Marianas Trench, making history by becoming the first human to ever reach the the deepest known spot in the ocean alone.
The DeepSea Challenge was an attempt to duplicate and surpass the original Challenger Deep dive, which occurred in 1960 and, before now, had been the only results-producing attempt to reach the bottom of the Trench.
Cameron’s submersible was equipped with tools to take sediment and wildlife samples, as well as with state of the art 3D cameras to document the journey. The sub was also designed to make the 8.6 mile journey in a relatively short amount of time, reaching the bottom in under three hours, with the full ascent taking only one hour.
The original plan was to explore for six hours before surfacing, but a hydraulic leak on the first voyage forced Cameron back to the surface after three hours. His preliminary visual findings were sparse, detecting only trace amounts of life. “It was bleak,” Cameron stated in a press conference this morning. “It looked like the moon.”
You can find further details and coverage of the history-making trip here on National Geographic, along with specs on the voyage here. You can also keep track of future dives and current news on the project’s Twitter account.
Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of Tor.com and doesn’t dare go that far down. It owes the Marianas Trench a lot of money.