Challenger Deep

The Challenger Deep is the deepest place in the world's oceans. It is a slot at the southern end of the Marianas Trench. The ocean floor is about seven miles beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean in the slot. Geologists list the official depth at this time as 39,994 feet.

Trieste Bathyscaphe, NOAA

Jacques Piccard and Lieutenant Don Walsh
aboard the Trieste

HMS Challenger
The slot was discovered during an expedition of the British Navy aboard the HMS Challenger. They were surveying areas in the Pacific Ocean from 1872 to 1876 when they found the slot.

How it was named
The name Challenger was in honor of the boat they were on. The term deep was used to describe places that were deep in the ocean. The Marianas Trench is located near the Mariana Islands and is 190 miles from Guam.

Trieste getting ready to dive, NOAA

First descent to the deepest point on Earth, NOAA

The first descent
The first manned descent to the oceans deepest point occurred in 1960. On January 23, 1960 a US Navy submersible Trieste manned by Jacques Piccard and Lieutenant Don Walsh descended to the bottom of the trench. The floor of the ocean where they descended to was 35,838 feet deep.

Other unmanned descents
The men stayed on the bottom only 20 minutes because of a crack in the glass of the bathyscaphe. Since then two unmanned deep-sea probes have been sent to study the area. 

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Challenger Deep prize
Today there is a prize being offered by the X Prize Foundation for any privately funded manned craft that travels to the bottom of the down to the bottom twice. The owners of the craft will receive a $10 million prize.

James Cameron's solo dive
James Cameron in a solo dive went to the floor of the Challenger Deep. He recorded his trip in 3-D. It was on March 27, 2012. It took 7 years of preparation for his dive. The National Geographic Society helped James Cameron finance his dive. Because of the murky water he was not able to take a major set of pictures while he was on the floor of the Challenger Deep. He plans to return in the future with another mini-sub.

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