James Cameron dives to earth's deepest point

James Cameron dives to earth's deepest point

Academy Award winning filmmaker James Cameron has journeyed to the earth's deepest point where only two men have gone before.

Filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence James Cameron emerges from the Deepsea Challenger submersible after his successful solo dive to the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, Monday March 26, 2011. The dive was part of Deepsea Challenge, a joint scientific expedition by Cameron, the National Geographic Society and Rolex to conduct deep-ocean research. AP The 57-year-old director of "Titanic" and "Avatar" used a specially designed one-man submarine to dive nearly 7 miles, reaching the depths early today in the western Pacific Ocean before returning to the surface, according to Stephanie Montgomery of the National Geographic Society.

He spent time exploring and filming the Mariana Trench, about 200 miles southwest of the Pacific island of Guam.

"All systems OK" were Cameron's first words upon reaching the bottom, according to a statement. His arrival at a depth of 35,756 feet came after a descent that took more than two hours.

His return, however, was a "faster-than-expected 70-minute ascent," according to National Geographic, which sponsored the expedition.

The scale of the trench is hard to grasp - it's 120 times larger than the Grand Canyon and more than a mile deeper than Mount Everest's height.

Cameron made the dive aboard his 12-ton, lime-green sub called Deepsea Challenger. He planned to collect samples for biologists and geologists to study.

"It's really the first time that human eyes have had an opportunity to gaze upon what is a very alien landscape," said Terry Garcia, the National Geographic Society's executive vice president for mission programmes.

The first and only time anyone dove to these depths was in 1960.
Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and US Navy Captain Don Walsh took nearly five hours to reach the bottom and stayed just 20 minutes. They had little to report on what they saw, however, because their submarine kicked up so much sand from the ocean floor.

"He (Cameron) is going to be seeing something that none of us have ever seen before. He is going to be opening new worlds to scientists," Garcia said.

Earlier this month, after a 5.1 mile practice run near Papua New Guinea Cameron had said that the pressure "is in the back of your mind." The submarine would implode in an instant if it leaked, he said.

But while he was a little apprehensive beforehand, he said he wasn't frightened or nervous while underwater.

"When you are actually on the dive, you have to trust the engineering was done right," he said.

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.