Control under 8 tons of pressure: diving deep with James Cameron
It's a completely hostile world nearly 7 miles (10.9 km) beneath the ocean's surface. No light, temperatures just above freezing, and 16,000 lbs of pressure per square inch. That's Challenger Deep. Can anything live there? Can anyone survive the trip to find out?
Explorer and filmmaker James Cameron pulled together a diverse team from all over the world to make the first attempt in more than 50 years—the only solo dive ever. Here's a behind-the-scenes look from a key team member.
And the sub is controlled by... an off-the-shelf Opto 22 SNAP PAC System.
The team completely re-thought deepsea diving. They invented a new type of syntactic foam to withstand extreme conditions. They designed fluid-compensated electronics for the sub's thrusters, controlled by joysticks. For the pilot, they built a steel sphere strapped to the sub's beam. They developed multiple methods for the pilot to communicate with the surface crew.
But to control and monitor more than 180 systems on the sub—including batteries, depth sensors, thrusters, 3D cameras, lighting, and life support—they chose an off-the-shelf SNAP PAC System from experienced automation manufacturer Opto 22.
Challenger Deep lies in the Pacific Ocean, 189 miles southwest of Guam.
A touchscreen HMI helps the sub's pilot monitor everything from battery power to oxygen levels.
Chosen for its reliability and ability to communicate with a wide variety of other systems, the SNAP PAC System keeps the pilot informed about everything going on in the sub.