Bill Lange and his crew have created the most complete picture ever of the Titanic, which went down in the North Atlantic 100 years ago in April.
“Now we know where everything is,” says Lange, head of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory, in the April issue of National Geographic.
The most famous wreck in maritime history sits on the bottom 12,000 feet down. She sank at 2:20 a.m. April 15, 1912, with the loss of 1,500 passengers and crew.
The massive high-definition sonar survey map of the Titanic was pieced together from thousands of images captured by three robotic vehicles that flew at various altitudes above the plain in preprogrammed swaths, according to National Geographic. The target area measured 3 by 5 miles.
Click play for a video presentation of the National Geographic photos.
A crab clawing at a railing can be seen in the image, as well as a bathtub sitting on the ocean floor. The April issue of National Geographic contains the first images showing the full expanse of the ship.
“After a hundred years, the lights are finally on,” says Lange.
“This is a game-changer,” NOAA archaeologist James Delgado, the expedition’s chief scientist, told the magazine. “In the past, trying to understand Titanic was like trying to understand Manhattan at midnight in a rainstorm — with a flashlight. Now we have a site that can be understood and measured, with definite things to tell us. In years to come this historic map may give voice to those people who were silenced, seemingly forever, when the cold water closed over them.”