James Cameron to dive to ocean's deepest point

James Cameron and Deepsea Challenger submersible National Geographic

(CBS) "Avatar" filmmaker James Cameron will attempt to dive to the earth's deepest known point: the "Challenger Deep," a spot in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean almost 7 miles below the ocean's surface, according to a press release from National Geographic.

The Challenger Deep has been reached just once before, by Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh in a specially-made bathyscaphe called the Trieste in 1960.

Cameron, according to the website set up for the dive, plans on making a solo descent in the Deepsea Challenger, a submersible the director helped design. According to the site, on Tuesday Cameron made the deepest solo dive in history in the craft, going 5.1 miles deep in a "dress rehearsal" for the Challenger Deep dive.

The expedition is planned to take place "in the coming weeks."

For the Deepsea Challenge expedition, Cameron plans on spending 6 hours at the bottom of the trench, collecting samples "for research in marine biology, microbiology, astrobiology, marine geology and geophysics."

"The deep trenches are the last unexplored frontier on our planet, with scientific riches enough to fill a hundred years of exploration," Cameron said. Among Cameron's goals: "to inspire people across the globe to celebrate exploration and to explore with us online and through the media we produce."

The expedition is a joint project by Cameron, the National Geographic Society and Rolex. According to the release, the expedition will be filmed for a 3-D feature that will be released to theaters.

  • Kevin Hayes

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