Racing to the Bottom: Exploring the Deepest Point on Earth

Nice write up at the Atlantic about the X Prize for visiting the Challenger Deep.  The story covers Richard Branson’s Virgin Oceanic, James Cameron’s Deep Challenge Team, and Bruce Jone’s Triton Submarines. Branson‘s, Cameron‘s, and Jone‘s efforts have been covered here at DSN.

Now, more than 50 years later, humans are nearly ready to return to Challenger Deep. This time, though, they’re planning to stay a while, collecting samples, videotaping whatever might be down there, sending out small remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) and then bringing home $10 million. Earlier this year, the X Prize Foundation made that prize money available to the first privately funded submersible to make two visits to Challenger Deep. This money, though, is little more than proof that humans are fascinated with the extreme: climbing Mount Everest, walking on the Moon, searching the floor of the ocean. Ten million dollars will only cover a fraction of the race to the bottom. And it is indeed a race; one with at least three competitors, each close to claiming the prize.

via Racing to the Bottom: Exploring the Deepest Point on Earth – Nicholas Jackson – Technology – The Atlantic.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.