James Cameron went down to the deepest pit of hell and came back unscathed. It was an amazing trip. He touched down on the Challenger abyss, exploring for three hours. “It’s an alien world,” he said. These are the first images.
The footage — taken with 3D high definition cameras and a 2.5m LED lamp — shows a place that looks like the surface of the moon. But this alien world on Earth is not as dead as our silver satellite. There’s life even down there, according to the film director and explorer.
The trip had to be cut short because of a leak in his Deepsea Challenger, an alien-looking ship herself. The 11-tonne ship is a beautiful design that, according to Cameron and the team behind the expedition, is much more manoeuvrable than older deep sea bathyscaphes and submarines, like Trieste or Alvin.
Not searching for giant krakens
Unlike Alvin, however, Deepsea Challenger wasn’t attacked by any gigantic swordfish. Cameron didn’t have any encounters of the third kind either, like in his 1989 movie Abyss. He didn’t even find the white or bioluminescent creatures that he found on his way down.
He said that there were no traces of other beings, terrestrial or alien. He only saw amphipods barely an inch long. But he wasn’t disappointed — they weren’t looking for giant krakens. The purpose of the mission was just to explore. He believes that, after this trip, they will find many surprises in the many, many trips that they are going to make with Deepsea Challenger.
Perhaps the most striking part of the video was Cameron’s sense of solitude and wonder. “My feeling was one of complete isolation from the rest of humanity,” he says. It makes sense; after all, he was the first man in history to reach this depth, trapped in a tiny steel machine that shrunk even smaller in the depths; the sub actually shrunk three inches inward while it was down below.
I wish I could go down there almost as much as I wish I could go into space.