Science & Environment

Race to the bottom of the ocean: Cameron

Hollywood director James Cameron has long been passionate about ocean exploration.

He pioneered new underwater filming techniques while making The Abyss.

And for the blockbuster Titanic, he used two Russian submersibles to gather footage of the wrecked liner, which lies nearly 4,000m (13,000ft) down in the Atlantic.

Now he has turned his attention on the deepest ocean - and became the first person in 50 years to make the journey to the deepest place on the planet.

His submarine is called the Deepsea Challenge, and was built by an Australian team of engineers - many of whom have worked with him on his films.

The tiny compartment that the film-maker sat in is made from thick steel, which is able to resist the 1,000 atmospheres of pressure he experienced at full ocean depth.

The rest of the vertical column is made from a material called syntactic foam - a solid made mostly of hollow "microballoons" - giving it enough buoyancy to float back up.

He describes the sub as a "vertical torpedo" that slices through the water allowing him a speedy descent. It took him just two hours to make the 11km (seven mile) dive.

The vessel is fitted with an array of 3D, high-definition stereoscopic cameras and a vast lighting array, that allowed him to film this deep, dark spot. The footage will form a documentary, which will be based on the dive.

After making the dive, Mr Cameron told the BBC: "It was absolutely the most remote, isolated place on the planet."

"I really feel like in one day I've been to another planet and come back."

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