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James Cameron Donates Deepsea Challenger Sub to Science

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Mar 26, 2013 11:02 AM EDT
James Cameron
Canadian film director James Cameron delivers a speech during a signing ceremony at the National Museum in Beijing, August 8, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/China Daily)

On March 26, exactly one year after his solo dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, James Cameron announced his decision to donate the submarine he used in the Deepsea Challenge mission to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

A total of seven years were spent building the device called the Deepsea Challenger and, according to a press release issued by the WHOI, it represents some of the most advanced technology ever devised for deep-sea exploration.

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Many of the machine's innovations lie in its approaches to flotation, energy storage, camera and lighting systems, all of which enabled Cameron to gather data he was then able to bring back to the surface.

WHOI Director Susan Avery plans to incorporate the Deepsea Challenger's innovations into future missions. For example, scientists at the WHOI already plan on using the submarine's cameras and lighting systems on the upcoming dive by the remotely-controlled Nereus.

In addition, Cameron has accepted a position on the advisory board for the WHOI's newly-launched Center for Marine Robotics (CMR).

According to the press release, the CMR is a "novel collaborative model that enchances the development of robotic technologies by bringing together partners from academia, the federal government, and the private sector."

In all, Cameron has logged more than 3,000 hours underwater during a total of 85 submersible dives, the majority of which reached depths greater than two miles. Much of Cameron's work as an award-winning movie director is influenced by his love of the ocean, whether it's the 12 dives to the actual wreck Cameron made while directing "Titanic," or the advancements he's made in underwater cinematography and robotics starting with the 1989 film "The Abyss." 

Ultimately, it was this passion that led the director-scientist to donate the Deepsea Challenger to the WHOI.

"WHOI," he said, "is a place where the Deepsea Challenger system will be a living, breathing and dynamic program going forward."

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