On Friday, Chinese authorities broadcast live footage of their new manned submarine at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, as part of an unprecedented mission in the deepest underwater valley on the planet.
The State Broadcasting Corporation (CCTV) stated that “Fendouzhe”, or “Stripe,” landed more than ten thousand meters in the trench in the western Pacific Ocean, with three researchers on board.
Only a few people have visited the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a crescent-shaped depression in the Earth’s crust and deeper than Mount Everest.
The first explorers visited the trench in 1960 on a short exploration trip, and the missions stopped until 2012 when Hollywood director James Cameron made his first solo trip to the bottom. Cameron described the environment he saw around him as “desolate” and “strange”.
Video footage captured by a camera in the deep sea this week showed the green-and-white Chinese submarine moving through dark waters surrounded by clouds of sediment as it slowly descended on the seafloor.
Fendouzhe, which has undertaken several diving missions in recent days, earlier this month set a national record of 10,909 meters for manned diving in the deep sea after landing at the deepest known point of the trench called the Challenger Deep by just under 18 meters. For the record set by an American explorer last year.
The submarine, equipped with robotic arms to collect biological samples and “eyes” that use sound waves to identify surrounding objects, performs repeated diving missions to test its capabilities.
CCTV said the mission will also conduct research on “deep sea materials” as China presses ahead with plans for deep-sea mining.
The water pressure at the bottom of the trench is eight tons per square inch, which is roughly a thousand times the air pressure at sea level.
Despite this, scientists have found that the dark, frozen waters of the trench are full of life. It is expected that “Fendouzhe” will set the necessary standards for Chinese submarines that will explore the depths of the sea in the future.