WASHINGTON — “Titanic” director James Cameron reached the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean in his solo submarine, mission partner the National Geographic said Sunday.
The explorer and filmmaker reached a depth of 35,756 feet (10,898 meters) at 7:52 am Monday local time (2152 GMT Sunday) in the Mariana Trench in his specially designed submersible, according to mission partner National Geographic.
Cameron’s first words on reaching the bottom of the so-called Challenger Deep were “All systems OK,” according to a mission statement.
He then tweeted: “Just arrived at the ocean’s deepest pt. Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can’t wait to share what I’m seeing w/ you.”
He planned to spend up to six hours on the Pacific Ocean sea floor, collecting samples for scientific research and taking still photographs and moving images.
His goal is to become the first human to visit the ocean’s deepest point in more than 50 years, and to bring back data and specimens. He was expected to take 3D images that could help scientists better understand the unexplored part of the earth.
The submersible that Cameron designed, a “vertical torpedo” of sorts, already successfully completed an unpiloted dive on Friday.
The Canadian filmmaker left the tiny Pacific atoll of Ulithi on Saturday for the mission some 6.8 miles (11 kilometers) down in the Pacific Ocean, according to the scientific institution.
He planned to film his journey with several 3-D, high-definition cameras and an eight-foot-tall (2.4-meter-tall) array of LED lights.
In 1960, a two-person crew aboard the US Navy submersible Trieste — the only humans to have reached Challenger Deep — spent just 20 minutes on the bottom, but their view was obscured by silt stirred up when they landed.
Because of its extreme depth, the Mariana Trench is cloaked in perpetual darkness and the temperature is just a few degrees above freezing, according to members of the team.
The water pressure at the bottom of the trench is a crushing eight tons per square inch — or about a thousand times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level. Pressure increases with depth.
Cameron, 57, has been running several miles a day, practicing yoga to increase his flexibility for the dive in the sub’s cramped quarters and studying deep-ocean science, physician Joe MacInnis told National Geographic News.
MacInnis is a member of the DeepSea Challenege project, a partnership with the National Geographic Society and Rolex.
Cameron already has 72 dives under his belt, including 12 to film “Titanic.”
The Mariana Trench is located in the western Pacific east of the Philippines and some 124 miles (200 kilometers) east of the Mariana Islands.
The crescent-shaped scar in the Earth’s crust measures more than 1,500 miles (2,550 kilometers) long and 43 miles (69 kilometers) wide on average.
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