James Cameron has gone to the ends of the Earth and back.
On Monday morning, the Oscar-winning director dove to the deepest-known point on Earth, the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench southwest of Guam, becoming the first person to make the 6.8-mile dive alone.
Cameron piloted a 12-ton submersible dubbed the Deepsea Challenger and arrived at the site, known as Challenge Deep, shortly before 8 a.m. local time, according to National Geographic, which oversaw the voyage. The 35,756-foot descent into the trench — which is 120 times larger than the Grand Canyon and a mile deeper than Mount Everest is tall — took two hours and 36 minutes. His first words after touching down were, "All systems OK."
"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," Cameron also tweeted.
The Titanic and Avatar filmmaker spent about three hours on the bottom collecting research samples for marine biology, microbiology, astrobiology, marine geology and geophysics, and taking photographs and video footage. A joint venture between National Geographic, Cameron and Rolex, the expedition is designed to shed light on unknown locations of the Earth.
Following a faster-than-expected 70-minute ascent, Cameron, 57, reached the surface around noon.