We have an awesome update to our feet (almost 7 miles) to the bottom of the “Challenger Deep” of the Mariana Trench off the coast of Guam. He’s the first person to ever do a solo dive to the Challenger Deep, and he collected samples and 3D video for scientific research and an upcoming National Geographic documentary.
The descent took 2 hours and 36 minutes. After spending several hours on the ocean floor, the ascent took 70 minutes and the submarine was found without difficulty using Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s helicopter. Cameron’s submarine, the 12 ton, 25-foot-long Deep Challenger, cost $8 million (which he partially financed himself) and came equipped with a sediment sampler, a robotic claw, temperature/salinity/pressure gauges, an 8-foot tower of LED lights, 3-D cameras, and a “slurp gun” for nabbing small sea creatures to
study them confuse the sh-t out of them.
Despite the high cost of the ship, it can be (and already has been) used on multiple dives. As Cameron tells Popular Science, the ROVs he used to explore the Titanic and the Bismark cost $2.5 million, yet have already paid for themselves twice over due to multiple uses. He expects the Deep Challenger to eventually pay for itself or turn a profit eventually.
Several hours prior to yesterday’s dive, Cameron’s support team dropped a phone booth sized unmanned vehicle down the trench. The vehicle gives off a chemical signature which attracts sea life, and Cameron attempted to meet up with that vehicle on the sea bottom to take 3-D video of those sea creatures. Cameron tells National Geographic, “There is scientific value in getting stereo images because … you can determine the scale and distance of objects from stereo pairs that you can’t from 2-D images.” And speaking of 3D, Cameron’s next move is to attend the Titanic 3D premiere this Wednesday. We assume that’s not going to be as interesting as what he did yesterday.