China / Innovation

Jiaolong reaches 7,020m beneath sea

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-06-24 19:07

ABOARD XIANGYANGHONG 09 - Chinese oceanauts refreshed the country's dive record in a manned submersible by reaching 7,020 meters beneath the sea in a successful test dive Sunday.

<EM>Jiaolong</EM> reaches 7,020m beneath sea

China's manned deep-sea submersible Jiaolong is lifted out of water after reaching 7,020 meters beneath the sea on June 24, 2012. China's manned submersible, Jiaolong, made its fourth dive in the Mariana Trench on Sunday morning to attempt the world's first 7,000-meter dive below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Jiaolong, China's manned submersible named after a mythical sea dragon, reached 7,020 meters below sea level at about 11 am local time (0100 GMT) during its fourth dive into the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.

The submersible, which began to dive at 7 am local time (2100 GMT Saturday) in heavy rain, completed its mission at about 6 pm local time (0800 GMT) and went back to its mother ship Xiangyanghong 09.

During the 11 hours of diving, the oceanauts worked for almost three hours on the sea floor, collecting water samples and sediments and placing markers at the bottom of the sea.

The three oceanauts, Ye Cong, Liu Kaizhou and Yang Bo, sent greetings from the bottom of the sea to three astronauts who were expected to conduct a manual docking of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft with the orbiting Tiangong-1 lab module around noon Sunday.

"We wish for a great success of the manual docking and brilliant achievements in China's manned space and manned deep-sea dive causes," said the oceanauts.

<EM>Jiaolong</EM> reaches 7,020m beneath sea

Chinese oceanauts wave hands after the submersible Jiaolong returns from 7,020 meters beneath the sea on June 24, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua] 

The Jiaolong had succeeded in reaching depths of 6,671, 6,965 and 6,963 meters in its previous three dives from June 15 to 22, well surpassing the record of 5,188 meters last July.

"It has been proved during the four times of dive that the submersible is stable in function and the capabilities of the team performing the test dives are improving gradually," said on-scene commander Liu Feng, calling all of the team members "heroes".

"The breakthrough of diving deeper than 7,000 meters will enable China to conduct scientific surveys in over 99.8 percent of the world's seabed areas," said Liu Cigui, director of the State Oceanic Administration.

The submersible will attempt two more dives and is expected to return to China in mid-July with its oceanographic mother ship Xiangyanghong 09.

Xiangyanghong 09 left China's eastern coast on June 3 and reached the designated dive zone in the Mariana Trench on June 11.

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