In Photos: James Cameron's Epic Dive to Challenger Deep

James Cameron's Titanic Quest

James Cameron talks to his crew

(Image credit: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic. ONE-TIME USE.)

On March 26, 2012, director and explorer James Cameron became the first person to complete a solo sub dive to the deepest point in the ocean, Challenger Deep. Cameron documented his record-setting voyage in a new film, "Deepsea Challenge 3D," which hits theaters Aug. 8, 2014.

First Dive

The Deepsea Challenger on deck

(Image credit: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic. ONE-TIME USE.)

The Deepsea Challenger submersible made her first manned test dive in the ocean at Jervis Bay in Australia.

Test Touchdown

Deepsea Challenger on seafloor

(Image credit: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic. ONE-TIME USE.)

James Cameron spent seven years developing his high-tech submersible, the Deepsea Challenger, to explore the most remote pits of the ocean. Shown here, the underwater craft sits on the seafloor during a test dive off the Ulithi Atoll.

High-Tech Sub

The Deepsea Challenger underwater

(Image credit: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic. ONE-TIME USE.)

The vessel might look big, but Cameron was confined to a small sphere, built with heat-treated steel to withstand the intense pressure of the water column above — over 1,000 times the atmospheric pressure humans experience on land.

Inside the Pilot's Sphere

Cameron inside the sphere

(Image credit: Great Wight Productions Pty Ltd and Earthship Productions, Inc.)

Cameron didn't wear a knit cap to pay homage to his hero Jacques Cousteau; the cramped vessel gets quite cold at the bottom of the sea.


James Cameron in the sub

(Image credit: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic.)

Cameron in his capsule after making his trip to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Don Walsh

James Cameron and Don Walsh

(Image credit: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic)

Ocean explorer and U.S. Navy Capt. Don Walsh, right, was on the boat to congratulate James Cameron on his successful solo trip to Challenger Deep. Walsh and Jacques Piccard were the first people to touch down at this part of the Mariana Trench, during a Navy mission inside the bathyscape Trieste in 1960.

Neil deGrasse Tyson with James Cameron

(Image credit: Megan Gannon for Live Science)

Alongside Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cameron answered questions after a screening of his movie at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on Aug. 4.

Megan Gannon
Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.