Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Jacques Piccard

Jacques Piccard was born in 1922 in Brussels, Belgium. His father, Auguste Piccard, beat the world record twice for getting to the highest altitudes flying in a balloon, and he decided to use the same type of technology, the buoyancy technique, to develop a vehicle that could submerse, called a bathyscaphe.

Even though he started working as an economics teacher at the University, Jacques Piccard continued to assist his father in improving the bathyscaphe and demonstrating his great potential in the deep waters. They built together three such machines between 1948 and 1955 and managed to reach a depth of 4.600 feet at one point and 10.000 feet at another point, both being record depths.
After this success, Jacques decides to quit economics and further collaborate with Auguste, his father. He contacts the U.S. Navy in order to get financial support in improving his current bathyscaphe – Trieste -even further. The Navy is impressed and decides to buy the vessel and also hire Piccard as a consultant. He gets to reach 24.000 feet with Trieste, but dreams big and acts even bigger. In January 1960, Piccard and his team reaches the floor of the Marian Trench located in the North Pacific Ocean, at a depth close to 39.000 feet, which took almost five hours. They stayed 20 minutes at the bottom and Jacques Piccard decided to cut the journey short as he started seeing cracks on the windows they had. Going back up took three hours and 15 minutes. His next important mission was the one using the Ben Franklin vessel, a mesoscaphe; he descended near the Florida coast, with a crew of six men. Piccard was the leader. Ben Franklin was launched two days before the famous Apollo 11 mission, in 1969. The first mesoscaphe was built by Piccard and his father and was the first vehicle that managed to take passengers underwater.
In 1971, he writes a book about his voyage, which he calls The Sun Beneath The Sea. Afterwards, he becomes a consultant for America, for deep sea researches. He manages to contribute deeply to our knowledge and understanding of the oceans and the depth of the sea and was a huge protector of the life underwater. Jacques Piccard dies in 2008 in Switzerland and gets an award in 2012 for his Mariana Trench expedition, award called the Hubbard Medal.

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