Technology TED Prize

7 miles down: James Cameron’s sub set to explore the Mariana Trench

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Photo: James Cameron / Deepsea Challenge Blog

Photo: James Cameron / Deepsea Challenge

Update: This Storify tells the story of the descent in tweets from around the world …

If all goes as planned, today James Cameron (watch his TEDTalk) begins an epic dive to the deepest point in the ocean — taking the director almost 7 miles down into the Mariana Trench.

Follow the Deepsea Challenge expedition >>

The Mission Blue ocean news site offers context on the expedition:

Cameron spent the last six years researching submersible technology and coming up with solutions to negotiate the Mariana Trench’s crushing 1,086 bars of pressure (roughly 1,000 times the pressure at sea level). He began building his vessel—dubbed the Deepsea Challengerin secret in Australia. His effort resulted in a 24-foot-long craft that seats only one person and has no amenities. Now, he is ready to put that vessel to the test in a 6-hour solo dive.

On the ocean’s floor, Cameron plans to film what he sees (the sub is designed not to kick up clouds from the ocean floor) and turn his deep dive into a 3D film to share the wonderment of this almost-unknown part of the ocean.

Mission Blue asked ocean legend and TED Prize winner Sylvia Earle for her thoughts on Cameron’s epic exploration:

Earle thinks Cameron should receive the same level of recognition as the pioneering astronauts who returned with images of the Earth from afar. “The ocean is relevant to every breath we take, every drop we drink, and this provides incentive to solve problems and take the ocean seriously,” she said. “There’s a sense of urgency for exploring and gaining knowledge about the ocean so we can take action,” she added.

One other TED-related side note: Only two other humans have ever made this dive, US Navy lieutenant Don Walsh and oceanographer Jacques Piccard, in the Trieste in 1960. And now Piccard’s son, Bertrand Piccard, is attempting to circumnavigate the globe in a solar-powered plane — a plan he shared at TEDGlobal 2009. Watch Bertrand Piccard’s TEDTalk >>