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NASA and Hollywood Collaborate On Film

The U.S. space agency, NASA, and Hollywood have collaborated on a spectacular new film, 'Aliens of the Deep,' exploring the mysteries of deep sea life.

Director James Cameron put together a unique crew, made countless dives to the bottom of the sea with the very best cameras anywhere, and produced a film exploring deep-sea life.

"We didn't just bring scientists. We brought people who were willing to learn and willing to go to whatever lengths and whatever depths necessary to explore these mysteries,” said Mr. Cameron.

"History has shown that wherever there is liquid water there is life. We go out to a place, such as Europa, which is a moon of Jupiter. These moons are covered by ice. How could there be any life there, but the moons are heated from within, so underneath that ice layer is a liquid water layer.”

He continued, “Now you have space scientists, astrobiologists, studying it theoretically, because we've never seen life off this planet. All right, well let's not study it theoretically guys. Let's jump in a submarine. Let's go down. Let's look at stuff that might be very much like what you're going to be finding when you get out there."

And that's what he did.

"That's what these people are doing. Three and a half, four billion years ago, this is probably where life started, so you are looking at the place which was the cradle of life," said Mr. Cameron.

"These people are trying to figure out how the Earth works, where life comes from, what kind of life we might find when we go out into space."

NASA scientist Kelly Snook says of the undersea exploration, "It's similar in many ways to exploration of another planet. You have a vast, unexplored territory, very difficult to get to, very dangerous. It requires a lot of technology, the same kind of technology designed to protect human beings and allow them to do what human beings do best, which is explore."

Not just making films, these scientists are teachers and researchers, looking for clues to life, on Earth and beyond it.

Stanford University’s Kevin Hand says, "The most exciting thing for me is just doing whatever I can to spark that little curiosity in young students’ minds, getting them excited about learning, and exploring the world and the universe around them."

Dijanna Figueroa is a marine scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "Every dive we saw something we've never seen before. And that excites me just like it should excite anybody. I can go to the bottom of the sea floor and find a thriving biological community. It just makes me say, ‘Wow!’ ”

Mr. Cameron adds, "You know, we're down there, two miles under the ocean, and we're all looking out at something that, that almost defies explanation. And honestly, it looks just as good on that screen as it does to us looking out these portals, maybe better, because the camera can tilt up, can tilt down, it can look all around, and it's actually, in a way, a more satisfying experience to see it in three-D (dimensions)."

Pam Conrad is an Astrobiologist with NASA. "You cannot go to the bottom of the sea and come back as the same person. The bottom of the sea is all that it promises to be when you see it. The surprise is just how emotional it is. Every time you go on an expedition, you start out as one person and you finish as another."

"Part of me is a scientist,” says professor Hand. “Part of me is an explorer, and this was an incredible combination of those two parts of me, and so it has been a life-changing experience."

And now, we too, thanks to James Cameron, his team and film, can share in that experience as well.