As of 10 p.m. ET, James Cameron's submarine Vertical Torpedo surfaced in the Pacific after diving nearly 7 miles below sea level. The director arrived at the bottom with equipment to collect data and deep sea specimens for scientific research.
The director tweeted earlier today, showing his excitement about the challenge:
"Just arrived at the ocean's deepest pt. Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can't wait to share what I'm seeing w/ you @DeepChallenge"
He is the first human to reach the milestone, which began early Sunday morning just southwest of Guam in a 12-ton submarine headed to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The trip to the surface took around 70 minutes after spending about 6 hours down at the bottom of the trench.
"Jim came up in what must have been the best weather conditions we've seen, and it looks like there's a squall on the horizon," said NASA astro-biologist Hand.
Throughout the Mariana Trench dive, 3-D video cameras were kept whirring, and not just for the benefit of future audiences of planned documentaries.
"There is scientific value in getting stereo images because ... you can determine the scale and distance of objects from stereo pairs that you can't from 2-D images," Cameron told National Geographic News before the dive.
But "it's not just the video. The sub's lighting of deepwater scenes-mainly by an 8-foot (2.5-meter) tower of LEDs-is "so, so beautiful," said Doug Bartlett, a marine biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California.
The director has been an oceanography enthusiast since childhood and has 72 deep-sea submersible dives under his belt. Thirty-three of those dives have been to the wreckage of the Titanic, which helped inspire his 1997 hit. Titanic is being re-released in 3D in select theaters.