That would take some guts to dive solo!
James Cameron, the Hollywood film director, is poised to make his solo dive to the deepest point of the world's oceans this weekend provided he gets a suitable gap in the weather.
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James Cameron emerges from the hatch of Deepsea Challenger during testing of the submersible in Jervis Bay, south of Sydney, Australia in 2012. Photo: AFP
By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
12:08PM GMT 24 Mar 2012
The Titanic director had been expected to make the ambitious 6.7 mile dive to Challenger Deep earlier this week but the team have been waiting for calmer weather conditions.
On Saturday morning the filmmaker and his team left the tiny Pacific atoll of Ulithi in two ships to make their way towards the waters above the Mariana Trench.
In an update posted to National Geographic News they said that if the weather remained calm they hoped to make the dive later this weekend.
If successful, Cameron would become only the third human to reach the Challenger Deep – the deepest known point in the oceans towards the southern end of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific.
The feat has only been achieved before by Don Walsh, a US Navy Captain and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard in their submersible Trieste in 1960.
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James Cameron descends to the bottom of the Mariana Trench
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Cameron, who is 6ft 2ins tall, will have to spend several hours standing hunched in a space around 3ft wide as he controls the movement of his diving capsule The Deepsea Challenger.
Weighing nearly 11 tons and almost 24ft tall, the vehicle has been extensively tested in both manned and unmanned dives over the past few months.
Speaking to National Geographic, who have sponsored the expedition, Cameron said his team have already sent the specially built submarine on an unmanned trip to Challenger Deep, and it returned unscathed.
"We did some test launches and recoveries, and we did an unpiloted dive of the vehicle," he said.
Earlier in the week retired US Navy Captain Walsh said the team were ready to make the dive but were waiting for the "weather gods" to provide the right conditions.
He said: "The sub, its team and the mother ship are all ready to go, and we only wait for the 'weather gods' to favour us."
Cameron's descent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench is expected to take him 90 minutes at a speed of around 500 feet per minute.
The Deepsea Challenger has been specially designed to stay upright and spin as it descends, allowing it to dive so quickly.
At the deepest point, the pressure on the vessel will be more than 1,000 times greater than at the surface. A custom-built foam filling and thick metal will protect Cameron.
Once in the trench, Cameron is expected to spend up to six hours there filming with 3D cameras and collecting samples.
The submersible vehicle has been equipped with a robotic claw, a vacuum tube for sucking up small sea creatures and a number of sensors.
He will also rendezvous with a phone-box sized lander that will have been dropped into the trench hours before his dive.
Using sonar, "I'm going to attempt to rendezvous with that vehicle so I can observe animals that are attracted to the chemical signature of its bait," Cameron said.
A carefully planned route through the trench will allow the director to survey the sediment-covered floor and cliffs.
During his time at the bottom, Cameron's only communication with the world above will be via text messages and sporadic voice communication due to constraints on battery power.
Finally he will jettison steel weights attached to the submersible, allowing the vehicle to shoot back to the surface.
To prepare for the dive Cameron has been running several miles each day and practicing yoga to increase his flexibility.
It is hoped that the 3D images that Cameron manages to capture during the dive will provide scientists with a glimpse of new life that exists at these extreme depths.
Tracks and burrows in the silky mud at the bottom could reveal important details about the ecosystem, and if the water's clear, jelly fish and giant single celled creatures called xenophyophores could be visible.
"If we get lucky," Cameron said, "we should find something like a cold seep, where we might find tube worms." Cold seeps are regions of the ocean floor somewhat like hydrothermal vents that ooze fluid chemicals at the same temperature as the surrounding water.
Expedition astrobiologist Kevin Hand, of NASA, imagines that the life-forms Cameron might encounter could help fine-tune the search for extraterrestrial life.
For instance, scientists think Jupiter's moon Europa could harbour a global ocean beneath its thick shell of ice - an ocean that, like Challenger Deep, would be lightless, near freezing, and home to areas of intense pressure.
The preparation should be worth it, according to Andy Bowen, project manager and principal developer of the Nereus, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that explored Challenger Deep in 2009.
The Mariana Trench dive, Bowen said, should be "an important and bold evolutionary step forward in terms of human explorations of the oceans."
That would take some guts to dive solo!
'Look After Them And That Of Them And That Of The House'
Was just reading about this yesterday, he already did the dive on Monday, went down about 5:00 am Guam time and resurfaced around noon, he spent 3 hours at bottom, very exciting stuff, can't wait to see 'The Movie' (hehehe).
The Link: James Cameron makes first ever successful solo dive to Mariana Trench -- ocean's deepest point
It's a good read, check it.
"If She is in charge, then I will OBEY"