This is the Mariana Trench - the deepest point on Earth - found in the Western Pacific Ocean.
GARRIOTT: “It is almost 11,000 meters of sea water deep, that is deeper than Mount Everest is high above sea level..."
Explorer Richard Garriott is the first person who has descended to this point, AND gone to the North Pole, the South Pole… Oh, and also outer space, aboard the International Space Station.
Garriott says the recent ocean journey in a two-person submarine called “Limiting Factor’ took about 8 hours there and back… with an added four hours to collect geological, water and sea creature samples for research.
"... The Mariana Trench is created where the Pacific plate and the Philippine plate are colliding into each other... And so as these rocks are being subducted, there's some of the oldest rocks on those plates. And they're very different, they're completely different plates. They were formed in different ways, in different times. And so we're trying to collect rocks from both sides to show some of this ancient geology before it disappears into the mantle of the Earth.”
Collecting water samples was also important to the mission.
"One of the reasons we're bringing up water samples is to look for microplastics... And it does look like, unfortunately, there's microplastics everywhere and in fact, not on my dive or on this dive sequence, but last summer's sequence, they actually found a new species of amphipod and they gave it its scientific name and included the word 'plastic' in it because there was so much plastic in that creature's body."
Not many living things can survive at this cold, dark depth… but, small amphipods were observed. Likely seeing light - from the submarine - for the very first time.