Esri’s Dawn Wright successfully dived Challenger Deep to 10,909 meters, or nearly 7 miles, with explorer Victor Vescovo. The expedition to the deepest point on Earth will collect images and data advancing marine science and conservation.
Dawn Wright, chief scientist at Esri, has successfully descended to the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in Earth’s ocean, in the Mariana Trench. The maximum recorded depth was 10,909 meters, +/-8 meters.
The dive was piloted by Victor Vescovo, undersea explorer and founder of ocean research company Caladan Oceanic, with Dr Dawn Wright as mission sonar specialist. The expedition was again led and coordinated by Expedition Leader Rob McCallum, founder of EYOS Expeditions.
Wright supported the diving with her expertise in marine geology and the company’s geospatial technology and became one of the few people – and the first black person – to visit Challenger Deep.
“I am delighted to support the science and mapping goals of Victor and his Caladan Oceanic team and to further strengthen the relationship between our two organizations,” said Wright. “This is a great opportunity to do a more detailed mapping of the entirety of Challenger Deep, as well as fulfill my dream of getting there. There is still so much we don’t know about the vast majority of our own planet. That’s why it’s such an important scientific endeavor to better understand the oceans.
Wright will publish a series of maps and data from the dive to Esri’s ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, the premier collection of geographic information — including maps, apps, and data layers — from around the world. One of the purposes of making this data available is to add to the understanding of the shape and structure of this deepest part of the planet, as well as how human activity can affect these locations.
Seafloor maps are essential for everything from marine navigation to climate modeling. They provide the three-dimensional understanding of ocean volume that climatologists need to build better models of climate change, and that ecologists need to fully assess and design marine protected areas.
Vescovo, who piloted the submersible, has dived to the deepest points in the world’s five oceans, all four of the world’s 10,000-meter trenches, and made 14 previous visits to Challenger Deep. To do this, he commissioned Triton Submarines LLC to design and build the Limiting Factor (Triton 36000/2), the only vehicle commercially certified for unlimited depth and capable of repeatedly visiting any ocean, at any time. any depth, any time of the year. .
Vescovo has now piloted the submersible to the five absolute deepest points in the ocean: the Challenger, Horizon, Scholl, Eden and Sirena Deeps in the Mariana, Tonga, Kermadec, Philippine and Mariana Trenches, respectively, and in June 2022 discovered the USS Samuel B. Roberts – the deepest shipwreck in the world.
“The oceans … [are] 70% of our entire planet, and of that number, 95% is unexplored,” Vescovo said at a TED talk in 2019. “So what we’re trying to do with our expedition is build and testing a submarine that can go anywhere on the bottom of the planet…several times, which has never been done before. And that [submersible]…will open that door to exploration and find things we never even knew existed.
Expedition Leader McCallum added, “This remarkable submersible is pioneering the final frontier of exploration on Earth: the halal zone. [below 6,000 meters]. The discoveries he will make during his career almost surpass the imagination.
During this expedition, Vescovo and Wright successfully tested a first full-ocean-depth side-scan sonar built by Deep Ocean Search in France as part of an attempt to map high-resolution depths more than six times deeper than the Grand Canyon. Such sonar has never been used in the deepest part of the ocean and could allow very detailed mapping or the detection of wrecks at any depth of the ocean.
The expedition team will use Esri’s GIS software to post-process the raw sonar data and produce what they hope will be the most detailed map yet of parts of Earth’s deepest place.
After this dive, the expedition team will make the first-ever crewed descent into the Yap and Palau Trenches with navigator Seasario Sewralur from Micronesia and former Palau President Thomas Rememngesau.