How low can you go?
May 28, 2006 11:06 PM Subscribe
Project Nekton — Take Mt. Everest, add a mile to the top, and turn it upside down. That's how far oceanic explorers Jacques Piccard and USN Lt. Donald Walsh descended on January 23, 1960 into the Pacific's Challenger Deep, the lowest spot in Earth's oceans. Their submersible, the second-generation bathyscape Trieste, was designed by Swiss balloonist Auguste Piccard (Jacques' father) and built in Italy. This underwater balloon was buoyed by 70 tons of gasoline, ballasted by nine tons of steel shot, and dangled a cramped, six-foot diameter, 14 ton observation gondola underneath it [more Trieste photos here]. It took Piccard and Walsh nearly five hours to touch bottom 35,800 feet down in the Mariana Trench. Their unique voyage still stands 46 years later: no one has gone back—except by ROV—and more people have landed on the Moon.
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