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The Return to Challenger Deep

The deepest point on the planet, called Challenger Deep, is located in the Mariana Trench, about 310 miles southwest of Guam. It is 36,070 feet (10,994m) deep and the bottom was first reached by Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard in the bathyscaphe Trieste on January 23, 1960. The story of their descent and the entire Project Nekton are both fascinating. But what’s perhaps even more fascinating (or puzzling) is that no one has returned to Challenger Deep since. For over 50 years, that record stood and, with the passing of Jacques Piccard in 2008, Captain Don Walsh is now the only man on the planet who can claim to have been there. Until perhaps this week.

Things are now brewing in Guam. James Cameron (director of Titanic and Avatar) has recently announced the DeepSea Challenge, a venture backed by a number of organizations, including National Geographic and Rolex. Check out the official website- it’s pretty awesome. So is James Cameron. The man is a tireless and passionate explorer, having made over 76 deep-water submersible dives, including 33 to Titanic. For the past eight years, he has been working with his team of experts (including Captain Walsh) to build the DeepSea Challenger submersible. It looks like a huge green torpedo, vertically suspended in the water. The main website for the endeavor has tons of great content, including a remarkable letter from James Cameron to Captain Walsh after he completed an 8000m test dive.

The team is now making its way to the Mariana Trench, and Captain Walsh is on board. Fingers crossed all goes well!

Posted by ExplorerJosh on 03/13 at 09:51 PM

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