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Esri's Dawn Wright Will Journey to Challenger Deep with Explorer Victor Vescovo

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On or about July 12, a two-person team will descend nearly 36,000 feet into the Pacific Ocean to capture images and data from the Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the Earth's ocean. The expedition team will include Victor Vescovo, undersea explorer and founder of the ocean research company Caladan Oceanic, as pilot and Dr. Dawn Wright as mission specialist. The expedition will be led and coordinated by expedition leader Rob McCallum, founder of EYOS Expeditions.

As chief scientist of Esri, the global leader in location intelligence and geographic information system (GIS) technology, Wright will support the dive with her expertise in marine geology and the company's geospatial technology. Through the expedition, she is also poised to become one of the few individuals—and the first Black person—to visit Challenger Deep, located within the Mariana Trench.

"I am excited to support the science and mapping goals of Victor and his Caladan Oceanic team and to further strengthen the relationship between our two organizations," said Wright. "It is a great opportunity to perform more detailed mapping of the entirety of Challenger Deep, as well as to just fulfill my dream of visiting the location. There is still so much we don't know about the vast majority of our own planet. This is why it is such an important scientific endeavor to understand the oceans better."

Wright plans to release a series of maps and data from the dive on Esri's ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, the foremost collection of geographic information—including maps, applications, and data layers—from around the world. One goal of making this data available is to add to the understanding of the shape and structure of this deepest part of the planet, as well as how human activity can affect such places. Maps of the seafloor are vital for everything from ship navigation to climate modeling. They provide a three-dimensional understanding of ocean volume that climate scientists need to build better models of climate change, and that conservationists need to fully assess and design marine protected areas.

Vescovo, who will host the July expedition and pilot the submersible, is also an operating partner and cofounder at Insight Equity. He has made dives to the deepest points in all five of the world's oceans and made 12 prior visits to Challenger Deep. To do so, he commissioned Triton Submarines LLC to design and build the Limiting Factor, the only vehicle that is commercially certified for unlimited depth and capable of repeatedly visiting any ocean, at any depth, at any time of year. Less well-known is that Vescovo has piloted the submersible to the five absolute deepest points in the ocean: the Challenger, Horizon, Scholl, Emden, and Sirena Deeps in the Mariana, Tonga, Kermadec, Philippine, and Mariana Trenches, respectively.

"The oceans . . . [are] 70 percent of our entire planet and, of that, 95 percent is unexplored," Vescovo said in a 2019 TED talk. "So what we're trying to do with our expedition is to build and prove out a submersible that can go to any point on the bottom of the planet . . . multiple times, which has never been done before. And this [submersible] . . . will open that door to exploration and [allow us to] find things that we had no idea even existed."

Expedition leader McCallum added: "This remarkable submersible is the pathfinder to the last frontier of exploration on Earth: the hadal zone. The discoveries it will enable during its career are almost beyond imagination."

During the July expedition, Vescovo and Wright will set out from Guam to test a first of its kind, full-ocean-depth sonar in an attempt at finer-scale mapping of depths over six times deeper than the Grand Canyon. Caladan's expedition team and Wright will use Esri's GIS software to postprocess the raw sonar data and produce what they hope is the most detailed map yet of the deepest place on Earth.

Vescovo and Wright support marine science through their individual affiliations with the Explorers Club, a New York-based professional society promoting scientific exploration and field study. As an awardee of the Explorers Medal in 2020, Vescovo has achieved the society's highest honor. As a Fellow National, Wright has earned recognition for significant contributions to seafloor exploration and mapping. She has also authored and contributed to some of the most definitive literature on marine GIS technology.

To learn more about Wright's historic expedition to Challenger Deep, visit mappingthedeep-story.hub.arcgis.com.

About Caladan Oceanic

Caladan Oceanic is a private company dedicated to the advancement of undersea technology and supporting expeditions to increase the understanding of the oceans. Founder Victor Vescovo, a former Commander in the US Navy, has long had a passion for exploration and has summited the highest peak on all seven of the world's continents, including Mount Everest, and skied at least 100 kilometers to both the North and South Poles. With the completion of the Five Deeps Expedition in August 2019, Vescovo became the first person in history to have been to the top of all the world's continents, to reach both poles, and to descend to the bottom of all its oceans. He also holds the record for the most dives to the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest point on the planet, a total of twelve times. He was awarded the Explorers Medal in March 2020, received the 2021 SeaKeeper of the Year Award at the International SeaKeepers Society ceremony in Miami in February 2022, as well as the 2021 Captain Don Walsh Award for Ocean Exploration by the Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) and The Marine Technology Society (MTS) in London in early 2022. In June 2022 he went 100km into space on Blue Origin’s New Shephard-21 mission and thus became the first human to climb Mt. Everest, dive to Challenger Deep, and go into space.

About EYOS Expeditions

EYOS Expeditions has been designing complex and challenging expeditions for private vessels since 2008. Drawing on the decades of experience of the company's co-founders, the EYOS team has delivered over 1,200 safe and successful expeditions to some of the most remote destinations on Earth. EYOS Expeditions holds several "world firsts" and routinely takes clients to destinations rarely or never before visited and in 2020 was awarded the Explorers Club's highest award, the 'Citation of Merit,' for the highly successful 10-month 'Five Deeps Expedition.' EYOS Expeditions has worked behind the scenes on many of the industry's ground-breaking itineraries and has a long history of delivering once-in-a-lifetime experiences for clients while maintaining the highest standards of safety, professionalism, and environmental stewardship. EYOS Expeditions is today regarded as the industry leader for planning and operating remote expeditions using submersibles, and for coordinating complex science missions.

About Triton Submarines

Triton Submarines of Sebastian, Florida, is the most experienced civil submarine producer in the world today – and the only contemporary manufacturer of acrylic and titanium pressure-hull-equipped personal submarines to deliver multiple classed and certified vessels with rated diving depths as shallow as 200 meters to depths as great as 11,000 meters. Triton Submarines' senior staff have over 400 years of combined experience with more than 100 different submersibles, and its operations team members have together logged over 35,000 dives. Triton clients also enjoy superlative after-sales service and technical support from a company dedicated to their total satisfaction.

About Esri

Esri, the global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence, and mapping, helps customers unlock the full potential of data to improve operational and business results. Founded in 1969 in Redlands, California, USA, Esri software is deployed in more than 350,000 organizations globally and in over 200,000 institutions in the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, nonprofits, and universities. Esri has regional offices, international distributors, and partners providing local support in over 100 countries on six continents. With its pioneering commitment to geospatial information technology, Esri engineers the most innovative solutions for digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics. Visit us at esri.com.

Copyright © 2022 Esri. All rights reserved. Esri, the Esri globe logo, ArcGIS, The Science of Where, esri.com, and @esri.com are trademarks, service marks, or registered marks of Esri in the United States, the European Community, or certain other jurisdictions. Other companies and products or services mentioned herein may be trademarks, service marks, or registered marks of their respective mark owners.

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Contact information

Jo Ann Pruchniewski
Public Relations, Esri
Mobile: 301-693-2643
Email: jpruchniewski@esri.com

John Cotton
Public Relations, Caladan Oceanic and EYOS
Mobile +44: 7788 276922
Email: john@jcapr.co.uk

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