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Divers to the depths / Larry Greenmeyer

James Cameron donates his sophisticated deep-sea submarine for the benefit of science

The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER deep-sea submarine from the company's website
The deep-sea submarine DEEPSEA CHALLENGER
From the company website

Before setting off on another adventure on the distant moon of Pandora in the sequel to Avatar, director and actor James Cameron contributed to science what may be considered his greatest technological achievement. Submarine of the deep DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, where he dived in March 2013 to the deepest point in the world, is coming this summer to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution [in Massachusetts], and will help its scientists better understand how life exists in the depths of the sea - the last unknown area on Earth.


Cameron and his team of engineers equipped the submarine with the best technological innovations that allowed them to go on the first manned research mission at the bottom of the "Challenger Abyss" in the western Pacific Ocean, located at a depth of about 11 kilometers below sea level. In the first phase, Woods Hole scientists will install the adjustable and lightweight cameras and the lighting system designed by Cameron and his team in the robotic submarine Nereus of the institute, which has been used to study the depths of the oceans since 2009. The team ofNereus Preparing to leave in February 2014 for a six-week trip, funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) in the amount of about 1.4 million dollars, with the aim of exploring the Kermadec Trough in the Pacific Ocean, located at a depth of about 10 kilometers [northeast of New Zealand].

In addition to the submarine itself, Cameron decided to donate about one million dollars to help the Woods Hole team of scientists and engineers adapt its technology to the wider use of deep-sea exploration. "Instead of having the submarine sit idly by until I complete my next two films, I think it would be better if I donate it to this noble cause," Cameron said in an April 2013 discussion in New York with Woods Hole scientists.

The researchers aim to study the abysses of the sea at depths below six kilometers in all their aspects. They want to know what creatures live there, how they evolved during evolution and what they feed on, says Tim Shank, a researcher in Woods Hole's biology department who heads the HADES project to study the ecosystem of the deep sea. However, most submarines capable of withstanding the extreme pressures that prevail at these depths are, for the most part, heavy and difficult to operate and therefore relatively expensive and have low fuel efficiency. Cameron's engineers developed new materials, including a sticky foam made of millions of tiny hollow glass spheres immersed in epoxy resin with the aim of strengthening the submarine's hull without weighing it down. The length of the submarine is 7.3 meters and its internal width is only 1.09 meters. The submarine's cockpit has balls that are at normal atmospheric pressure, which also allows for the collection of water evaporated from Kamron's breathing and sweat into a plastic bag, which serves as an additional reservoir of drinking water when needed. The submarine sinks in the water when it is standing on the bottom of the ocean [see photo] in such a way that its wheelhouse is at the bottom and above it is a lighting pole and a battery panel that is 24 meters long.

Cameron's deep-sea submarine will arrive in Woods Hall shortly after the opening of the new center of the Institute of Marine Robotics, whose purpose is the development of technology for marine research in cooperation with the academic world and with the assistance of the US federal government and the business sector. Some of the experts on the subject who were present at the opening ceremony stated that the field of marine robotics is at a disadvantage compared to advanced terrestrial developments, such as drones, this is, in part, because wireless communication networks (Wi-Fi) and satellite navigation systems (GPS) do not operate below sea level. This means that there is still a wide field for innovative developments in the underwater world. "The popular opinion in the public is that the era of the great discoveries is already behind us, that we discovered everything that can be discovered about the world and mapped it to the end," says Cameron, adding: "The total area of ​​these ocean depressions is larger than the surface of the United States and more extensive than the surface of the Australian continent. It is, in fact, an unknown continent that exists somewhere on Earth and is waiting to be discovered."


The article was published with the permission of Scientific American Israel

2 תגובות

  1. It is better to invest in the development of a mapping system for the bottom of the oceans and the upgrading of submarines that can dive to such depths with appropriate equipment.

  2. An area of ​​comparative research worth thinking about is a comparison between the photographs of the submarines and photographs of the bottom of the oceans as part of Google Earth.

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