Friday, March 09, 2012

James Cameron to attempt 7-mile Mariana Trench dive

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Breaking new ground in the movie industry isn’t the only thing that gets James Cameron excited. He’s also interested in the ocean and diving in a big way. Proof of that comes in the form of the Deepsea Challenger, the acclaimed director’s new submarine, which he has just taken on a 5-mile dive in the New Britain Trench.
The Deepsea Challenger took 8 years to develop and has barely enough room inside for one person (it’s 43-inches wide). All of the 180 systems inside have been custom-made for the sub, and it required a new type of foam be created for use on the exterior that’s twice as buoyant as what has been available before. As for power, take the number of lithium-ion batteries inside an electric car and triple it.
It sounds like a lot of work went into the sub’s creation, and with good reason. The pressurized cabin allows for a very quick descent by the submarine without having any impact on the person inside. That means it can dive 7 miles in just two hours and spend 6 hours exploring at a depth no modern sub has been to before.
The dive will happen in the Mariana Trench, with the exact dive depth being 6.83 miles. Once down there Cameron will use the on-board slurp gun to collect samples, as well as explore the bottom using a 7-foot LED panel allowing him (and four 3D HD cameras) to see up to 100 feet.
With 6 hours to explore, Cameron’s dive will reveal more than we have ever known about the deepest point in the ocean. What fish can survive down there, if any? And what will the samples reveal about an environment devoid of light, crushing pressure, and very low temperatues.

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