The first video footage is surfacing from James Cameron’s record-setting dive to the deepest known point in Earth’s oceans over the weekend, and the landscape down there is about what one might expect at a point seven miles below the surface: desolate, dark, and vaguely reminiscent of the moon. “I really feel like literally in the space of one day I’ve been to another planet and come back,” Cameron says in the video.
Sorry, Virgin. The first successful solo dive back to the bottom of the Mariana Trench was completed yesterday (technically on Monday, Guam time) by none other than filmmaker James Cameron. The joint effort between National Geographic, Rolex, and Cameron sent the director of Avatar and Titanic to the deepest point on Earth, some 35,756 feet below the ocean's surface, in a custom built submersible known as the Deepsea Challenger.
While touting space as the next great frontier, we tend to forget that our oceans encompass domains that might as well exist on other planets. Like outer space, the deep sea isn't an easy place to access, but explorers reared on Jules Verne and tales of the giant squid couldn't resist the challenge of mapping Earth's most alien habitat. To that end, innovators like aqua-lung inventor Jacques Cousteau, Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard, and aviation pioneer Edwin Link built submersibles fit for the long and treacherous task. As Piccard once said, "Exploration is the sport of the scientist."
The last time an ocean submersible took a crew down to Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the Mariana Trench (about 36,000 feet below the surface), it was 1960. Now, submersible designers Triton Submarines aims to take humans down to Challenger Deep again using their newly designed submersible Triton 36,000.
When Sir Richard Branson unveiled the Virgin Oceanic submarine, he noted that "More men have been to the moon than have been down further [underwater] than 20,000 feet." To that end, he and an explorer pal will take the submarine to the deepest trenches of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans, feeding first-of-its-kind data and video to Google, to be added to Google's Earth and Maps databases. The deep sea is truly the final frontier on our planet, and Branson wants to make it as accessible as possible.
Taking cues from the awesomely named black ghost knifefish, researchers at Northwestern University have created a robotic fish that can swim both forward and backward while also maneuvering vertically using a novel ribbon-like fin. Such agility and range of motion is unheard of in most underwater robots, and the development could lead to far more nimble robots for submerged operations (like capping undersea oil wells).
Remember the flipperbots? We first saw them this summer, when York University engineers showed off their new underwater robot controller. Now New Scientist has some great new video of our flippered friends.
By Jonathon KeatsPosted 07.10.2010 at 2:15 pm 0 Comments
Graham Hawkes is known for crafting near-perfect undersea vehicles—sleek, winged subs that ferry eco-explorers to the greatest depths of the ocean. But when a brilliant billionaire shows up and asks for something even more sophisticated, it's time to draw up a new plan.
Call it job creation: this week a handful of sea lions and dolphins trained to locate undersea mines earned their jobs back, jobs that were supposed to be turned over to undersea mine-sweeping robots. And why were these seafaring mammals brought back into service? To find the very robots that were supposed to replace them, four of which have gone AWOL somewhere off the coast of Virginia. You can't make this stuff up.