Jour­ney to the ocean’s depths

Action Asia - - NEWS & VIEWS -

SINCE NOVEM­BER 2018, the Five Deeps Ex­pe­di­tion has been on a jour­ney to reach the bot­tom of all five of the world’s oceans – At­lantic, South­ern, In­dian, Pa­cific and Arc­tic. These will in­clude the low­est known point on the Earth’s sur­face, the Pa­cific’s Chal­lenger Deep in the Mar­i­ana Trench, at al­most 11,000 me­tres, and will cul­mi­nate with the Mol­loy Deep in the Abyssal Zone of the Arc­tic in Au­gust 2019. The team of eight will be the first hu­mans to reach the bot­tom of the Java, Puerto Rico and South Sand­wich trenches, as well as the Mol­loy Deep. Get­ting there en­tails the use of a ti­ta­nium al­loy sub­mersible called Lim­it­ing Fac­tor that is de­signed for ex­ten­sive, re­peated dives to 120% of Full Ocean Depth (FOD), the dis­tance to the deep­est known point of the oceans. The ex­pe­di­tion should also break the world record set by the 1960s Swiss-de­signed re­search bathy­scaphe Tri­este in the Chal­lenger Deep, which made the cur­rent deep­est dive at ap­prox­i­mately 10,915 me­tres. Vic­tor Vescovo, cre­ator and spon­sor, will be pi­lot­ing the sub­mersible. His im­pres­sive re­sume in­cludes the Seven Sum­mits – climb­ing to the high­est point on each con­ti­nent – ski­ing to both North and South Poles, and ex­pe­ri­ence in pi­lot­ing fixed-wing air­craft and he­li­copters. He hopes there­fore to be­come the first to have been at both the high­est and low­est points of the Earth’s sur­face. Any­thing go­ing awry could be deadly, as there’s lit­tle chance of res­cue at such depths. For this rea­son, the ves­sel moves no quicker than around 5kph, any­thing that could po­ten­tially be­come tan­gled is ejectable and its oxy­gen tanks will func­tion even in the event of elec­tri­cal fail­ure. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing the sub will be a 68-me­tre re­search and ex­plo­ration ship equipped with wet and dry labs and three ad­vanced sea floor lan­ders to mon­i­tor and re­trieve sam­ples. The ex­pe­di­tion’s goals in­clude re­search­ing pos­si­ble an­cient con­nec­tions be­tween the oceans through the en­su­ing ge­netic dif­fer­ences of their re­spec­tive species. Also, an echo sounder and multi-beam sonar will map the ocean floor along the way to pro­vide richer, more de­tailed im­agery of the deep­est and dark­est realms on Earth. Fol­low their jour­ney at www.fivedeeps.com

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