Give James Cameron this much: He's unafraid to follow his passions where they lead him. Even if that place is seven miles below the surface of the ocean.
Yesterday Cameron became the first person to make a solo dive to the ocean's deepest point -- a portion of the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench known as "Challenge Deep." Cameron piloted a "vertical torpedo" of a submersible he dubbed "Deepsea Challenger" to the bottom of the trench, 35,756 feet down, then spent three hours filming and taking samples before safely returning to the surface.
No one has made that dive for 52 years. In 1960, two men piloted the Swiss-designed bathyscaphe "Trieste" to the bottom of Challenge Deep. Navy Lt. Don Walsh and the late Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard carried few instruments with them, and in fact saw little beyond the mud stirred up by their arrival at the bottom.
Cameron's submersible, by contrast, was loaded for bear -- just as you'd expect from a Hollywood director responsible both for major Hollywood epics such as "Avatar" and much more intimate documentaries about undersea exploration. The Deepsea Challenger carried multiple 3D cameras, an eight-foot LED tower for illumination, a sediment sampler, a robotic claw, and a "slurp gun" for capturing small undersea creatures via suction.
The voyage was a joint scientific venture involving Cameron, the National Geographic Society and Rolex. We'll have more coverage later on Monday. In the meantime, here are the first images from Cameron's expedition, followed by the text of National Geographic's statement on the event.