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Titanic: ‘Largest underwater scanning project in history’ provides never-before-seen views of the wreck


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The mysterious 1912 sinking of the luxury liner Titanic has long served as a source of fascination for many.

Historians now believe a new underwater scanning project may provide answers to some of the unanswered questions surrounding the tragedy that killed more than 1,500 people.

A team of scientists has used deep-sea mapping to create “an exact ‘digital twin’ of the Titanic wreck for the first time,” according to a press release Wednesday from deep-sea explorers Magellan and filmmakers Atlantic Productions.

By conducting the “largest underwater scanning project in history,” scientists have managed to “uncover details of the tragedy and reveal fascinating information about what really happened to the crew and passengers on that fateful night” of April 14, 1912, the press release said.

Scans of the wreckage were conducted in the summer of 2022 by a special-purpose ship stationed 700 km (435 miles) off the coast of Canada, according to the release. Strict protocols prohibited team members from touching or disturbing the wreckage, which investigators stressed was treated with the “utmost respect.”

Every millimeter of its three-mile debris field was mapped in minute detail, the press release said. The final digital copy has succeeded in capturing the entire wreck including both the bow and stern sections, which were separated by the 1912 sinking.

Atlantic Productions/Magellan

Computer engineers can use the data to investigate the true mechanics behind the tragedy, according to Titanic expert Parks Stephenson.

Parks Stephenson, an expert who has studied the Titanic for 20 years, hailed the project as a “game changer” that has managed to uncover “details never seen before.”

“We have actual data that engineers can take to investigate the true mechanics behind the breakup and sinking, thereby getting even closer to the true story of the Titanic disaster,” Stephenson noted.

One such example can be found on the propeller, where the serial number can be seen for the first time in decades.

About 715,000 images and 16 terabytes of data were collected during the expedition — which Magellan estimates is “about ten times larger than any underwater 3D model ever attempted before,” said Magellan CEO Richard Parkinson.

Parkinson described the mission as “challenging” and referred to the team’s struggle against “the elements, bad weather and technical challenges.”

While previous optical images of the ship were limited by low light levels and poor light quality 12,500 feet underwater, the new mapping technique has “effectively taken away the water and let in the light,” the press release said.

According to 3D imaging specialist Gerhard Seiffert, the “highly accurate photorealistic 3D model” has allowed people to zoom out and look at the entire wreckage “for the first time.”

“This is the Titanic as no one had ever seen it before,” Seiffert added.

According to Stephenson, this mapping will herald “the beginning of a new chapter” for Titanic research and exploration.

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