Folks, it’s on! Some of you may know of the “race to the bottom”, a confluence of several missions aimed at returning humans to the deepest part of the oceans, the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench, south of Guam. The teams include one sponsored by Richard Branson, one from Sylvia Earle’s sub company DOER, the Triton mission and one sponsored and led by movie maker and documentarian James Cameron. Read more about it in BBC’s excellent coverage here (their diagram originally had a big question mark next to Cameron’s design, but not anymore!). The big news: Cameron announced today that not only is their sub complete but that the expedition has started and that over the next weeks they will try for the bottom in his startling new submersible. His sub is unusual in that it is a vertical design rather like the conning tower on a naval submarine, only without the submarine, an upright cylinder that will drop to the bottom like a mangrove seed and remain upright while Cameron, the only passenger, peers out a window at the bottom, illuminated with an 8 foot bank of floodlights.
Here it is in his own words:
This is incredibly exciting news for anyone entranced by deep sea exploration and thrilled at the prospects of humans returning to the deepest place on earth after 52 years (Walsh and Piccard were the only folks to ever do it, in 1960). My pulse is racing just thinking about it. Our best wishes for a successful mission and watch this space for more news!