What is the deepest place on earth
My journey to the lowest point on earth
06:33 AM, DEPTH: 7070 METERS, DOWN AT 1.4 METERS / SECOND
I have just passed the deepest operating depth of the Chinese “Jialong”, the deepest operating manned submersible in the world. Shortly before that, I had already passed the greatest diving depth of the Russian “Mir”, the French “Nautile” and the Japanese “Shinkai 6500”. I dive deeper than any other pilot-controlled underwater vehicle. All of these other submersibles were, after all, the product of government-funded research programs. Our little green torpedo is a private project, it was put together in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, in a commercial workshop, between a plumbing wholesaler and a wood shop. Most of our team had never worked on a submersible before. They come from Canada, China, the USA, France and Australia. They all share a dream, the conviction that they can make the impossible possible. Today we'll see if we made it.
The deepest point in the sea is far from being reached
06:46 AM, DEPTH: 8,230 METERS, DOWN AT 1.3 METERS / SECOND
Now I'm deeper than on my solo record dive that I did three weeks ago in the New Britain Trench off Papua New Guinea. And I still have 2,740 meters of water below me. More than two and a half kilometers. Time seems to pass more slowly. I have worked through all of the points on my checklist, now during the long, silent fall through the darkness I have nothing else to do but think and watch the ever-increasing numbers on the depth gauge. The only thing I hear is the occasional hiss of the oxygen valve. I look at my feet on the hatch and think about the tremendous force that is pressing against it. If the sub had a leak, the water would shoot in like a laser beam and cut everything in its path - including me. What would happen there? Would it hurt And does the question even matter when you only have a second or two to live?
07:43 AM, DEPTH: 10850 METERS, DOWN AT 0.26 METERS / SECOND
Another hour has passed. On the last 2740 meters, the submersible has slowed down. I threw off some ballast, steel ball bearings that regulate the buoyancy of the submersible and were held in place by an electromagnet. Now I have a floating neutral state, neither difficult nor easy. I only sink with the help of the jet nozzles. The depth gauge shows that the ground is 46 meters below me. The cameras are running, the headlights are pointing downwards. With my knuckles white with tension, I grab the control of the jet nozzles and stare at the black monitors.
30 meters ... 27 ... 24 ... gradually I should be able to see something ... 21 ... 18 ... Finally I perceive a ghostly glow: the light reflected from the seabed. The ocean floor looks as smooth as an eggshell - no structures from which to estimate the distance. With the vertical nozzles I carefully give the brake thrust. Five seconds later the jet of water hits the ground and the nothing below me forms small ripples, like folds in a silk curtain.
I'm not sure the bottom is really firm. I take a hand off the thrust control very briefly and point the spotlight sideways at the landscape. The water is transparent like gin. I can look very far and see: nothing. The floor is completely monotonous, devoid of any structure, dimension or direction. I've seen the ocean floor on more than 80 deep sea dives. But not something like that yet. Never.
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