"Titanic" director James Cameron reached the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean in his solo submarine on Monday in a record-setting scientific expedition.
WASHINGTON – "Titanic" director James Cameron reached the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean in his solo submarine on Monday in a record-setting scientific expedition.
Mission partner the National Geographic said Cameron reach depth of 10,898m at 7:52am on Monday local time (2152 GMT Sunday) in the Mariana Trench in his specially designed submersible.
Cameron is the first person to make a solo dive to the Pacific Ocean valley known as the Challenger Deep, southwest of Guam, and the first to do it since 1960, according to his team.
His first words on reaching the bottom were "All systems OK," according to a mission statement.
He then tweeted: "Just arrived at the ocean's deepest pt. Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can't wait to share what I'm seeing you."
He planned to spend up to six hours on the Pacific Ocean sea floor, collecting samples for scientific research and taking still photographs and moving images.
The research vessels Mermaid Sapphire and Barakuda, were waiting for Cameron to make his long ascent.
"We're now a band of brothers and sisters that have been through this for a while," marine biologist Doug Bartlett told National Geographic from the ship before the dive.
Cameron's goal is to bring back data and specimens from the unexplored territory. He was expected to take 3D images that could help scientists better understand the deep sea environment.
Upon touchdown, Cameron's first target was a phone booth-like unmanned "lander" 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 before the dive.
The submersible that Cameron designed, a "vertical torpedo" of sorts, already successfully completed an unpiloted dive on Friday.
The Canadian filmmaker left the tiny Pacific atoll of Ulithi on Saturday for the mission some 11km down in the Pacific Ocean, according to the scientific institution.
He planned to film his journey with several 3-D, high-definition cameras and an 2.4-m-tall array of LED lights.
In 1960, a two-person crew aboard the US Navy submersible Trieste – the only humans to have reached Challenger Deep – spent just 20 minutes on the bottom, but their view was obscured by silt stirred up when they landed.
Because of its extreme depth, the Mariana Trench is cloaked in perpetual darkness and the temperature is just a few degrees above freezing, according to members of the team.
The water pressure at the bottom of the trench is a crushing eight tons per square inch – or about a thousand times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level. Pressure increases with depth.
Cameron, 57, has been running several miles a day, practicing yoga to increase his flexibility for the dive in the sub's cramped quarters and studying deep-ocean science, physician Joe MacInnis told National Geographic News.
MacInnis is a member of the DeepSea Challenge project, a partnership with the National Geographic Society and Rolex.
Cameron already has 72 dives under his belt, including 12 to film "Titanic".
The Mariana Trench is located in the western Pacific east of the Philippines and some 200km east of the Mariana Islands.
The crescent-shaped scar in the Earth's crust measures more than 2,550km long and 69km wide on average. AFP