How James Cameron plans to film Avatar sequel 7 miles below the sea's surface
Fortunately, their so called 'bathyscaphe' submarine, an extraordinary piece of Swiss Italian German engineering, sustained no further damage, and the explorers Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh lived to tell the extraordinary tale of this unique descent.
Twelve men have walked on the surface of the Moon and maybe 500 have travelled into space, but only Piccard and Walsh have visited the very deepest point of the ocean, which they reached on January 23, 1960.
The Challenger Deep dive was one of the most extraordinary and surprisingly little known feats of human exploration in history, the voyage who sells pandora charms in a submarine to a place even more extreme than the surface of most planets.
Now it has been announced that the multi Oscar winning film director James Cameron plans to add his name to the very exclusive club of those who have travelled to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, part of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific, and the deepest known point in the world's oceans.
Cameron who, after all, made a fortune with Titanic plans a follow up to his billion dollar 3D blockbuster Avatar, this time set in the teeming oceans of the film's fictional pandora watch charm bracelet alien planet of Pandora.
It seems bizarre that no one has repeated the feat of Piccard buy pandora earrings online and Walsh in more than half a century (two unmanned submersible robots have made the trip since). But then no one has to date built a working replacement for their vessel, the Trieste. Navy in 1958, is a truly extraordinary vessel.
Most deep diving craft up to that point (and, indeed, up to today) were tethered vessels, linked to their 'motherships' on the surface by steel cables and umbilical cords to aid breathing.
The 50ft long Trieste was, in contrast, a wholly self contained submarine, free diving and with its own life support systems. It was not attached to the surface in any way during its extraordinary five hour descent to the ocean floor.
The Trieste in some ways resembled an underwater airship. It consisted of two parts: a huge cigar shaped 'balloon' filled with 22,500 gallons of petrol to provide buoyancy (petrol is lighter than water).
Attached underneath this balloon was a tiny steel sphere, manufactured by Krupp of West Germany, just 7ft across, into which the pilots were crammed.
Effectively, it worked like a hot air balloon underwater, since the petrol in the balloon was pandora charms retailers incompressible, unlike air. So even at great pressure, the petrol balloon kept its shape and the craft remained buoyant.
But if the petrol in the balloon was lighter than water, how did the submarine descend? Nine tons of iron pellets were attached to the craft to make it sink and when the pilots wanted to ascend again, they were jettisoned on to the ocean floor.
During the dive, temperatures in the dank, unheated pressure sphere fell to a few degrees above zero, and the shivering pilots ate chocolate bars to conserve their strength.
At 30,000ft below the ocean surface, the outermost layer of their small Plexiglas porthole cracked, sending shockwaves reverberating through the submarine. Fortunately, the thick, cone shaped block of transparent plastic in the window held.
After nearly five hours, descending at a rate of less than two knots, the Trieste settled a few inches above the floor of the lowest point on the Earth's surface, a depth of 10,916m (35,814ft), where the crew spent 20 anxious minutes.
Conditions at the bottom of the Challenger Deep are almost unimaginable. Here, the seawater is more than a mile deeper than Everest is high, generating pressures of more than eight tonnes (the weight of a double decker bus) per square inch.
The total force on the Trieste's sealed capsule thus amounted to more than 177,000 metric tons. Even the strongest, titanium hulled military submarines, built by the USSR, can dive no deeper than 3,000ft, sustaining hull pressures of 'only' 1,800lb per square inch.
The reason the Trieste could withstand the pressure was not only that its petrol balloon was incompressible, but also that the reinforced sphere in which its pilots sat was so tiny.
Even at the surface of the planet Venus, considered one of the most hostile environments in the solar system, ambient pressures are a mere sixteenth of those at the bottom of the Challenger Deep.
At the very bottom of the Pacific, it is pitch black; not a single photon of sunlight can penetrate to these depths. And it is cold, too. On the abyssal floor, water temperatures hover at a constant zero degrees.
No unprotected diver could possibly survive such extreme conditions. At these pressures the body's many air filled cavities would implode.
Despite this there is, amazingly, life. Piccard and Walsh, peering through their tiny porthole
and playing the Trieste's external electric lamps onto the seabed through the crystal clear water, saw several creatures, including a flounder like flatfish and some shrimps. Oddly, the fish had eyes, even though there was no light with which to see.
The presence of clearly healthy marine animals shows that at these depths some oxygen must be present in the water something thought unlikely before the expedition.
Blockbuster: Cameron's proposed film will be a follow up to his billion dollar 3D blockbuster Avatar, this time set in the teeming oceans of the film's fictional alien planet Pandora
Piccard later said that 'by far the most interesting find was the fish that came floating by our porthole. We were astounded to find higher marine life forms down there at all.' The seabed itself down there consists of a thick layer of ooze, formed by the skeletons of trillions of microscopic sea creatures.
At these depths, there are few currents and the water is very nearly still.
The Challenger Deep is at the southern end of the Mariana Trench, a 1,600 mile long, arc shaped, undersea chasm to the east of the Philippines. The trench is five to seven miles deep and 43 miles across, and is formed as a result of one vast slab of the Earth's crust the Pacific tectonic plate being thrust westwards at a rate of a few inches a year underneath another, the smaller Mariana Plate.
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