When people envision "the final frontier" most think of traveling through space the way the Starship Enterprise did for many years on Star Trek. But there are virtually unexplored frontiers to be had without leaving Earth. The Marianas Trench in the western Pacific Ocean provides one of the most amazing and unique examples.

The trench is about 1,580 miles long with an average width of 43 miles. It is estimated to run almost seven miles deep – placing it as the deepest part of the ocean. This long and lean drop in the Ocean's floor has a water pressure that runs over 1000 times what we experience at sea level.

Only two other people have dared to explore the Trench: U.S. Navy Capt. Don Walsh, and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard in 1960 (no relation to Jean-Luc). The two were in the trench for about 20 minutes, but unfortunately the sand on the Trench's floor was disturbed by their vehicle so that they were not able to see anything.

Recently, James Cameron, the noted entrepreneur and explorer, became the third person to explore the Trench with a solo dive in his submarine, The Challenger.

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Cameron took numerous photographs, showing that the trench itself is a surprisingly intriguing place despite the incredible water pressure levels. According to Cameron, "It was very lunar, a very desolate place, very isolated." He also gathered samples of sediment from the bottom of the trench, providing a source for study for marine biologists and oceanographers. Cameron's exploration was cut short by three hours due to a hydraulic leak, but he did capture much of the experience on 3-D film. He plans to continue to explore the Marianas Trench in the future.

The United States established the Marianas Trench, also called the Marianas Trench, as The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument in January of 2009. This underwater monument includes over 95,000 square miles. It is protected under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the same law that protects our national parks, and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Although ocean exploration receives limited funding, Cameron's visit to the Marianas Trench may stir up more interest and dollars for the area. Talk includes opportunities for educational projects including a visitor center and guided sea tours.

The only life James Cameron saw in the Trench were a number of one-inch sea creatures, but it still provides an amazing new frontier for humanity. And though most of us will never have the opportunity to explore the trench in person, we can better understand the experience thanks to the 3-D movies of James Cameron.