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Highest & Lowest

Former astronaut becomes first person to have been in space and at full ocean depth.

A former NASA astronaut has become the first woman to reach the deepest point in the ocean, 37 years after she became the first American woman to walk in space.

Dr Kathyrn Sullivan, 68, dove to Challenger Deep alongside pilot Victor Vescovo which is the lowest known location on the planet, according to EYOS Expeditions.

The Challenger Deep is characterised by extreme darkness, immense pressures and low temperatures. Only simple microorganisms can survive in its environment, 35,810 feet under the sea in the Mariana Trench, located 200 miles southwest of Guam.

Dr Sullivan is the eighth person in the world to have made the journey with the first two being Don Walsh and Jacques Picard in 1960. Notably, Dr Sullivan has also become the first human to have been in space and at full ocean depth of nearly seven miles.

After the deep dive, EYOS Expeditions coordinated a call between the International Space Station and the DSSV Pressure Drop, the mothership of the submersible in a world first, after the ship had returned from its history-making full ocean depth dive in the Challenger Deep.

“As a hybrid oceanographer and astronaut, this was an extraordinary day - a once-in-a-lifetime day - seeing the moonscape of the Challenger Deep and then making the call between the ISS and DSSV Pressure Drop,” Dr Sullivan said.

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