Entertainment Magazine

Aliens of the Deep



In the end, the scientists’ mission was not only a unique opportunity to perform groundbreaking and cutting-edge scientific work but a journey of personal discovery.

“You cannot got to the bottom of the sea and come back the same person,” says Conrad.

“You cannot meet a group of people that work as hard as this film crew and not appreciate their contribution.

But I think the most important take-home message for me is that we can demand of ourselves the impossible—for me, it was impossible to design, build, and test a scientific instrument in five months. But we did it.

If you just keep reaching deep inside yourself and pulling out more and more, you get the prize in the Cracker Jack box.” Figueroa describes unforeseen challenges.

“We were on a Russian ship,” she says, “and the Russians use 220-volt power, while our lab is set up for 110-volt. And our equipment is powerful enough that you just can’t plug in a travel adaptor. That took some work to figure out. Then there’s the film crew, with their cameras and equipment everywhere—none of the scientists were used to that! But we learned and in the end, it was great. Everybody was on the same team. Just like in your day-to-day life: you have a job to do and, if you go with the flow, you get it done.”

“It was also great to meet and work with different people from all walks of life. You’re on a boat for weeks on end with this roughly one-hundred-person team and as a result you do everything together. I really enjoyed watching the Russian engineers take care of the submersibles—you could tell that this crew knew every nut, bolt, and wire. They have a good, robust system. It was impressive. It was also fun working with the Russian scientists, though the language barrier was quite a bit larger there and thus there were a lot more hand gestures and confused looks.” Hand continues.

“The production team was great too, full of amazing characters. We all worked together, ate together, hung out together on the deck at night and traded stories. I’ve made some great friends.” Finally, Cameron and his team hope that “Aliens of the Deep” will provide inspiration for the next generation of scientists and explorers—children who are just now beginning their scientific education.

“Every time NASA sends a spacecraft to some solar system destination, there’s a camera on board,” says Conrad. “As a child, I remember seeing those images and just being floored. I’m living proof that those images were meaningful; I’m here, doing science. I’m living the dream that got started by images of a guy walking on the surface of the moon.”

“My day-to-day work is mostly theoretical and experimental work in the lab,” says Hand. “I work with equations, programs, and lots of lab equipment. We’re trying to simulate—both mathematically and experimentally—conditions on Europa. At the moment, there’s no way for us to go and grab a sample of Europa—thus I don’t usually get a chance to go out into the field for my work. Getting to explore the bottom of the ocean with Jim and crew was an incredibly mind-opening experience. Nothing beats actually seeing the environment you’re trying to study and understand. Now, I want to do whatever I can to share that experience of the exploration side of science.”

Cameron concludes, “Ideally, there’ll be kids out in the audience for this film who’ll say, ‘I want to do that—I want to do what they do, because science is an adventure.’”

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