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The Challenger Deep

If Mount Everest is the highest point on Earth, what about the deepest point? Well, the Earth’s deepest point is known as the Challenger Deep located in the Mariana Trench. Thousands of mountain climbers have had their dreams come true when they managed to successfully scale Mount Everest. However, it is not the case for Challenger Deep. Thus far, only three people have descended into the planet’s deepest point.

The Mariana Trench is the deepest part of the world’s oceans. This trench is located in the western Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and about two hundred kilometres to the east of the Mariana Islands. It reaches a depth of almost eleven thousand metres at a small slot-shaped valley. The floor of this valley is known as the Challenger Deep.  Consider this: if Mount Everest, the tallest point on earth at 8,850 meters were set in the Mariana Trench, there would still be more than two thousand meters of water above it.

In 1875, a British ship known as H.M.S. Challenger reached Mariana Trench as part of their first global oceanographic cruise. The Challenger Deep is named after this exploratory vessel. In 1960, a Swiss scientist, Jacques Piccard and Navy Lt. Don Walsh were the first two people to descend into Challenger Deep. They used a submersible vessel named Trieste owned by the U.S. Navy.

It took about five hours to reach the deepest point but they were only able to spend around twenty minutes at the bottom. Another vessel – the Japanese unmanned submarine known as the Kaiko was used to conduct further research in 1995. The Kaiko was a rather sophisticated vessel that enabled scientists to gather important data without the need to endanger a human diver. Thereafter, the United States of America sent a hybrid remotely operated vehicle, known as the Nereus, to the floor of Challenger Deep in 2009. This vehicle remained at the seabed for almost ten hours.

This place is highly pressurised due to its extreme depth. Apart from that, it is extremely cold and remains in complete darkness all the time. It contains vents that bubble up liquid sulphur and carbon dioxide. There are also active mud volcanoes and marine life that have adapted to pressures a thousand times more than at sea level.

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descend (v) – to go or pass from a higher to a lower place.
trench (n) – narrow depression in the ocean floor.
submersible (n) – a vessel capable of submerging and operating under water.
unmanned (adj) – operated by automatic or remote control, without a person.
hybrid (n) – vehicle or machine with more than one source of power.
vents (n) – an opening from which volcanic material, as lava, steam, or gas, comes out.

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