By Evan

I only found out about this last week, and I am shocked by the lack of hype about this amazing accomplishment. James Cameron, probably best known for directing movies such as Terminator, Titanic and Avatar has completed an amazing solo journey to Challenger Deep in Mariana Trench (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/03/120325-james-cameron-mariana-trench-challenger-deepest-returns-science-sub/), the deepest point in the ocean at nearly 11 km below the surface. The solo journey is a feat in engineering, and human exploration of extreme conditions. The National Geographic has set up a website dedicated to the journey (http://deepseachallenge.com/), and has a extensive overview of the project.

Though the journey is certainly has an element of glory attached to it (Cameron was competing against three other groups to reach Challenger Deep by the end of 2012 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challenger_Deep#Planned_manned_descents)), this mission was largely a scientific one. The Mariana Trench formed by the collision of Pacific Plate and the Mariana/Phillipine Sea Plate. As the Pacific plate descends into the earth, it scrapes off nutrient rich sediment. This sediment proves to be a fertile ground for life, despite the crushing pressure. Previous unmanned expeditions found large single-celled amoebas. At the depth of Challenger Deep, carbonate is highly soluble in water, so they do not expect to find creatures with skeletons or shells. However, as they say, life finds a way. I eagerly anticipate the results of Cameron’s dive. Imagine being the lucky geologist(s) who get the sediment and rock samples he collected!

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