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Technological Review of Deep Ocean Manned Submersibles

Vaskov, A.K., 2012. Technological Review of Deep Ocean Manned Submersibles. BS Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, June 2012.

James Cameron’s dive to the Challenger Deep in the Deepsea Challenger in March of 2012 marked the first time man had returned to the Mariana Trench since the Bathyscaphe Trieste’s 1960 dive. Currently little is known about the geological processes and ecosystems of the deep ocean. The Deepsea Challenger is equipped with a plethora of instrumentation to collect scientific data and samples. The development of the Deepsea Challenger has sparked a renewed interest in manned exploration of the deep ocean.
Due to the immense pressure at full ocean depth, a variety of advanced systems and materials are used on Cameron’s dive craft. This paper provides an overview of the many novel features of the Deepsea Challenger as well as related features of past vehicles that have reached the Challenger Deep. Four key areas of innovation are identified: buoyancy materials, pilot sphere construction/instrument housings, lighting, and battery power. An in depth review of technological development in these areas is provided, as well as a glimpse into future manned submersibles and their technologies of choice.