Comments about technological history, system fractures, and human resilience from James R. Chiles, the author of Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology (HarperBusiness 2001; paperback 2002) and The God Machine: From Boomerangs to Black Hawks, the Story of the Helicopter (Random House, 2007, paperback 2008)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Deepsea Challenger: Timeline of tests and missions

When following a complex and interesting event, I assemble a timeline. Reporters often use timelines to track incoming facts and come up with new questions.  

For those who like a matrix, here's a draft list of dates and locations that I sifted from the Deepsea Challenge website and independent reports, such as pieces filed by news outlets in Guam and Australia.

If there are errors or omissions, let me know!

Date (Local) Label Location Max depth (feet) Notes
01/26/12 First submersion –    no pilot Dock at Garden Island Naval Depot, Sydney Harbor < 5 Checks for buoyancy and water tightness
01/31/12 First piloted submersion Dock at Garden Island Naval Depot, Sydney Harbor < 5 First time pilot in sub, in water
Probably first half of Feb Open-ocean test Jervis Bay, S of Sydney Not reported Successful piloted tests
02/21/12 First attempt, test dive to 3K feet Jacquinot Bay, 3 mi offshore of Papua, New Guinea 0 Sub launched with pilot, but aborted after 1 hr. Stayed on surface
02/22/12 Second attempt, test dive to 3K feet Jacquinot Bay 0 Scrubbed due to camera-control problems
02/23/12 Test dive to 3K feet Jacquinot Bay 3,250 Successful dive, photography, moved horiz at 3 kt, and rendezvous with lander Mike and also ROV operated from above
02/27/12 Attempted test dive to 12K Jacquinot Bay 0 Scrubbed
02/28/12 Test dive to 12K Jacquinot Bay 12,000 Successful rendezvous with landers Mike and Andrew, maneuvered 5 km horiz with guidance from ship
03/04/12 First Dive, New Britain Trench New Britain Trench 23,818 On way to NB Trench bottom, tried to stop 5 kt descent with large dumps of trim shot, then ascended slowly; then dropped ascent wts
03/07/12 Second Dive, New Britain Trench New Britain Trench 26,791 Successful dive to trench bottom for photography – maneuvered 1.5 km horiz, 300m vert
03/21/12 Unpiloted test dive to Challenger Deep   Not reported “nearly seven miles” tested to “almost 8 tons per sq inch”
03/25/12 First solo trip to deepest point Challenger Deep (probably vicinity of 11.3632, 142.5770) 35,756 Successful dive – first solo dive to bottom of hadal zone; 3D photography; core sample brought up; surfaced at local noon

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