James Cameron Donates DEEPSEA CHALLENGER to Non-Profit
One year ago today, explorer and filmmaker James Cameron performed a solo dive to the deepest place on Earth, the Challenger Deep, located in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench. To mark the one-year anniversary of the 11,000 meter journey, Cameron has announced that he will be transferring the vehicle used for the dive to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), a non-profit dedicated to marine research and engineering.
The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible system and science platform, which took seven years to design and build, is a vertically-deployed, human-piloted vehicle capable of accessing some of the least explored environments on the planet.
“Our sub is a scientific proof-of-concept, and our partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a way to provide the technology we developed to the oceanographic community,” Cameron said in a statement. “WHOI is a place where the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER system will be a living, breathing and dynamic program moving forward.”
Cameron’s team had to overcome many challenges in designing a system that could function under the extreme pressures of the deep-sea environment. The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER incorporates innovative approaches to flotation, energy storage, and the camera and lighting systems that allow data-collecting and documentation of deep-sea expeditions.
“Jim and his team saw challenges and overcame them with forward, innovative thinking,” said Susan Avery, president and director of WHOI. “The technological solutions they developed for the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER system can be incorporated into other human-occupied and robotic vehicles, especially those used for deep-sea research.”
WHOI envisions a range of uses for the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER system’s technology. Avery’s team intends to use the camera and lighting system developed by Cameron to on the Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicle Nereus, which will be exploring deep-sea trenches in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans over the next two years.
This technology, which enabled Cameron to capture high-resolution 3D images of geological processes and species during the CHALLENGER’s 13 piloted dives and 19 lander deployments, will now allow WHOI to collect similar data from different sites.
The partnership between Cameron and the WHOI is part of a broader effort to further the development of robotic technologies through the WHOI’s Center for Marine Robotics, a new organization that encourages collaboration between partners in academia, the federal government, and the private sector. Cameron will serve on the Center’s Advisory Board.