Two years ago, Kathy Sullivan became known as the world's 'most vertical woman'.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the record-breaking oceanographer and astronaut journeyed 250 miles above the surface of the Earth and became the first American woman to walk in space.
Then two years ago, aged 68, she travelled seven miles down to the deepest point in the ocean. The complete dive to the Mariana Trench takes 12 hours, with the trench sitting like a crescent-shaped dent in the floor of the Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Hawaii and the Philippines.
Life at that depth is fairly barren, although Kathy recalled seeing some sea cucumbers being bustled along the ocean floor by the submarine's engine.
In 2020 she told the Marine Technology Society: "The bottom was composed of light-tan, fine silt, but with many small mounds and pockmarks, which tell you that there is a fair number of critters burrowing, living, and feeding on the upper few centimetres of the sediment.
"There were some sea cucumbers on the bottom that were being pushed along by some combination of our thrusters and the ambient current.
"I also saw clear signs of current sculpting of the sediment in a couple of places, as well as a couple of linear tracks that told me some organism had crawled along the bottom.
"I would love to have a chance to go back and do a closer observation of the mechanical properties of the sediment."
In a video on Youtube, Kathy gave a glimpse of her life of space travel and diving to the depths of the ocean.
Her first space flight was in October 1984. Then after 15 years as an astronaut, she headed back to Earth to focus on the oceans.
"I always thought it was too bad we never created a NASA for the deepest parts of the sea," she said.
"We knew more about our moon and Mars than we do about the deep sea.
"So little is known about the shape of the bottom. So one of the key objectives was mapping the deep sea floor."
Kathy said travelling along the ocean's abyss is like "world's smoothest, calmest elevator ride".
"It's kind of like a magic school bus," she said.
"You're sitting inside this cosy little metal sphere, you might be munching a tuna fish sandwich, and yet outside that sphere, the pressure is about 1,100 times greater than it is here on the surface of the Earth.
"It's pitch dark apart from what light you might bring with you on the submarine.
"It was like a moonscape or an underwater desert. It really is in a lot of ways harder to explore and understand the ocean."
Fellow explorer Richard Garriott also documented the bizarre discoveries he made on the ocean floor.
He said: "There was a whole variety of small and somewhat difficult to see lifeforms, small sea cucumber-related creatures and translucent creatures like flatworms."
In 2017, scientists formally documented the world's newest, deepest fish, an odd little snailfish which was caught at 7,966 metres in the Mariana Trench.
Almost pink, translucent and twice as long as a cigar, it is the deepest fish ever caught.
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