Film director and National Geographic explorer-in-residence James Cameron relays the findings from his unprecedented solo dive.
National Geographic reports the return from the 7-mile dive took only around 70 minutes. After about five and a half hours of decent and underwater exploration, Cameron shot back to the surface, calling the ascent a “heckuva ride.”
Pressure on the Deepsea Challenger at its deepest was equivalent to three SUVs resting on a single toe, causing the hull of the sub to contract three inches, noted Cameron.
The mission time, originally slated for up to six hours, was shortened when the hydraulic sampling equipment designed to collect creatures and seabed rocks sprung a leak, obscuring the “pilot sphere” and Cameron’s view of the deep. He was unable to bring anything back to the surface for study save a partial sediment sample, reports National Geographic. However, Cameron feels such errors are normal for a new submersible like Deepsea Challenger. “It's a prototype vehicle, so it's gonna take time to iron out the bugs,” he says.
USA Today reports Cameron saying, "I see this as the beginning. It's not a one-time deal and then moving on. This is the beginning of opening up this new frontier.”