Scientists have created digital scan of the Titanic using 70,000 photos
Scientists have created the first full-size digital scan of the Titanic, the remains of which lie 3,800m down in the Atlantic Ocean, using deep-sea mapping.
This technology made it possible to obtain a unique three-dimensional picture of the entire ship, allowing you to see it as if it were lying on land.
Researchers hope that this will shed new light on the wreck of the liner, which sank after colliding with an iceberg in 1912. More than one and a half thousand people became victims of the accident.
"There are still questions, basic questions, that need to be answered about the ship," Parks Stephenson, a Titanic analyst, told.
He said the model was "one of the first major steps to driving the Titanic story towards evidence, and not speculation".
The Titanic was discovered in 1985 and has been extensively explored since that time. But the ship is so huge and lies at such a depth that the cameras can only show its separate parts. The entire hull of the sunken ship has not yet been seen.
The new scan reveals a complete view of the Titanic. During the dive, the ship broke in two, with the bow and the stern separated by about 800m. A huge debris field surrounds the vessel.
The operation to scan the Titanic was carried out in summer 2022 by Magellan Ltd, a deep-sea mapping company, and Atlantic Productions, who are making a documentary about the project.
Underwater vehicles, remotely controlled by a team on board a specialist ship, spent more than 200 hours underwater surveying and photographing the remains of the vessel.
From the resulting 70 thousand images from every angle, scientists have created an accurate three-dimensional reconstruction.
Gerhard Seiffert from Magellan, who led the planning for the expedition, said it was the largest underwater scanning project he had ever undertaken.
"The depth of it, almost 4,000m, represents a challenge, and you have currents at the site, too - and we're not allowed to touch anything so as not to damage the wreck," he explained. "And the other challenge is that you have to map every square centimetre - even uninteresting parts, like on the debris field you have to map mud, but you need this to fill in between all these interesting objects".
On the scan, you can see the smallest details, for example, the serial number on one of the propellers.
The bow, covered in stalactites of rust, is still easily recognizable even 110 years after the ship was lost. There is a boat deck at the top, where a huge hole gapes in the place where the grand staircase once stood.
The stern though, is a chaotic mess of metal. This part of the ship collapsed as it corkscrewed into the ocean floor.
Numerous objects are scattered around the wreck of the Titanic, including ornate metalwork from the ship, statues and even unopened bottles of champagne. There are also personal items, including dozens of shoes.
Parks Stephenson, who has studied the Titanic for many years, said he was "blown away" when he first saw the scans.
"It allows you to see the wreck as you can never see it from a submersible, and you can see the wreck in its entirety, you can see it in context and perspective. The scan shows the true state of the wreck," he said.
Stephenson said that studying the scans could offer new insight into what happened to the Titanic on that fateful night of 1912.
"We really don't understand the character of the collision with the iceberg. We don't even know if the Titanic hit it along the starboard side, as is shown in all the movies - she might have grounded on the iceberg," he explained.
Studying the stern could reveal the mechanics of how the ship struck the sea floor, Stephenson believes.
The sea gradually destroys the sunken vessel, microbes corrode its skeleton, the ship gradually falls apart. Historians are well aware that time is running out to fully understand the maritime disaster.
The new scan provides an excellent opportunity to "freeze" the grave of the Titanic in time, allowing scientists to study the smallest details.