Titanic director James Cameron makes historic dive bid

Mar 9, 2012

Oscar-winner has already used submersible to dive deeper than any human on a solo mission before

Andrew H. Walker

THE Oscar-winning film-maker James Cameron will attempt in the next few weeks to dive to the world's deepest point, the Mariana Trench's Challenger Deep, in a one-man submersible. The Titanic and Avatar director says he hopes to return with important scientific samples from the expedition, which is being backed by National Geographic.
The Los Angeles Times says Cameron will seek to accomplish his feat aboard a submersible, Deepsea Challenger, which is "as futuristic as anything in his movies". During testing off Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, Cameron dived deeper than any other human has on a solo mission, reaching a record-breaking 5.1 miles. His goal now is to be the first human in 50 years to make the 6.8 mile journey to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

National Geographic said the mission would "expand our knowledge and understanding of these largely unknown parts of the planet". Cameron acknowledged some concerns ahead of his journey. "When you're making a movie, everybody's read the script and they know what's going to happen next," said Cameron. "When you're on an expedition, nature hasn't read the script, the ocean hasn't read the script, and no one knows what's going to happen next."
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.
The Cameron-designed sub, however, is expected to allow the director to spend around six hours on the seafloor during which he plans to collect samples and film his journey with several 3-D, high-definition cameras.
On his way to the bottom, Cameron, crammed into the 43-inch-wide steel 'pilot sphere', won't be able to extend his arms or legs and he has been practicing yoga in preparation for the dive. Once on the sea floor, Cameron's sub will experience water pressures approaching 16,000 pounds per square inch.
Cameron is not alone in seeking to beat the diving record. Richard Branson has built a two-seater sub he says can survive a Challenger Deep descent, while Eric Schmidt from Google has donated money to marine technology company DOER Marine to build another vessel. And last year, the Triton submersible company unveiled the Triton 36000/3 model, which would reportedly allow a three-person crew to make the journey.

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