Director James Cameron has completed his journey to Earth’s deepest point in Richard Branson’s pet project Virgin Oceanic. The director of “Titanic,” ”Avatar” used a specially designed submarine to dive nearly seven miles. On the solo trip, he spent his time exploring and filming the Mariana Trench, about 200 miles southwest of the Pacific island of Guam. The Ocean Voyages were announced early last year and there are plans to visit four more points in the next 2 years. Branson himself is expected to pilot the submarine to the Puerto Rico Trench (28,232ft) – the deepest trench in the Atlantic, which has never been explored before. Further dives will take place in the Diamantina Trench in the Indian Ocean, South Sandwich Trench in the Southern Ocean and Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean.
Cameron reached a depth of 35,756 feet and stayed on the bottom for about three hours before he began his return to the surface, according to information provided by the expedition team. He had planned to spend up to six hours on the sea floor.
Alongside samples for scientific reasearch, Cameron also captured still photographs and video. The footage, filmed in 3D is expected to be used as part of a BBC Earth Feature Documentary. Justifying 3D used on the mission, Cameron said “There is scientific value in getting stereo images because … you can determine the scale and distance of objects from stereo pairs that you can’t from 2-D images”. And the scale of the trench is hard to concieve. It’s 120 times larger than the Grand Canyon and more than a mile deeper than Mount Everest is high.
As well as the 3D cameras, the solo submarine was also kitted out with a sediment sampler, a robotic claw, a “slurp gun” for sucking up small seacreatures for study at the surface, and temperature, salinity, and pressure gauges.
The film director has been an oceanography enthusiast since childhood and has made 72 deep-sea submersible dives. Thirty-three of those dives have been to the wreckage of the Titanic, the subject of his 1997 hit film, which is being released in a 3-D version next month.