After returning from the world's first--and to this date, only--manned dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the world's deepest point, Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard wave. Their dive, aboard the Navy bathyscaphe Trieste, took place on January 23, 1960.
No manned mission has returned to that point, a fact that illustrates that humanity has not favored ocean exploration, instead preferring to put more time, energy and money into space exploration. But on Thursday, Walsh and Piccard--who is now dead--will be honored at a gala event at the Press Club in Washington, D.C., celebrating the 50th anniversary of their dive.
As part of the event--which had to be scheduled a few months after the actual anniversary due to Walsh's unavailability in January--Walsh will be awarded the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal, the organization's highest honour. Walsh will also receive the U.S. Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award. In this image, we see the Trieste as it is hoisted out of the water in either 1958 or 1959, not long after the Navy purchased the vessel.
Tim Shank, a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute biologist, was co-chief scientist of an expedition in May 2009 to send the Nereus, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The Nereus was the first vessel to reach the bottom of the trench, which is 36,201 feet below the surface, since 1998. But no human has been that deep since 1960, when Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard took the Navy bathyscaphe Trieste there.
Footage of the ROV Nereus working on the ocean floor, as recorded by HD video cameras aboard the Nereus.
On April 22, Earth Day, Disney Nature will release "Oceans," a feature film about the world's largest bodies of water and, among other things, the exploration that can take place in the oceans. The film is narrated by Pierce Brosnan. Here, a school of fish spins tightly in the blue sea.
The Necker Nymph, a model of DeepFlight Merlin, a 3-person submersible built by Hawkes Ocean Technologies, was purchased by Richard Branson and delivered to Branson's private Island, Necker. The vessel "represents a new class of high-performance, positively buoyant vehicles which safely extend the overall capabilities of scuba, while offering the unique experience of underwater flight. Unlike all conventional submersibles which use ballast to sink in the water, the DeepFlight submersibles uses downward 'lift' on the wings to fly down to depth," according to Hawkes Ocean Technologies.