Saturday, March 31, 2012

Undersea Exploration in the Mariana Trench

Cross section of the Mariana Trench
The Mariana Trench
The lowest place on earth is the Mariana Trench located in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands.

Challenger Deep, the name given to the lowest point 35,756 feet below sea level, is located 300 miles south-west of Guam.

If the highest place on earth, Mount Everest, could be placed in the Mariana Trench, the peak of the mountain would be 7,166 feet below sea level.
All deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea, while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore.
~ Herman Melville
Filmmaker and National Geographic explorer-in-residence James Cameron descended 77 miles to Challenger Deep in a specially designed submersible, known as Deepsea Challenger, to record high-resolution 3D video and to collect samples on March 26, 2012. The expedition was chronicled for a 3D feature film.

Cameron spent hours on a desert-like seafloor collecting sediments and small sea creatures via robotic appendages to the submersible and measuring temperature, salinity, and pressure.
Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.
~ Frank Borman
Samples and measurements from the Mariana Trench will be analyzed by a team of scientists.