The first full-sized digital scan of the Titanic, which lies 3,800m (12,500ft) down in the Atlantic, has been created using 3D photogrammetry and deep-sea mapping.
It provides a unique 3D view of the entire ship, enabling it to be seen as if the water has been drained away.
“There are still questions, basic questions, that need to be answered about the ship,” Parks Stephenson, a Titanic analyst, told BBC News. He said the model was “one of the first major steps to driving the Titanic story towards evidence-based research – and not speculation.”
The Titanic has been extensively explored since the wreck was discovered in 1985. But it’s so huge that in the gloom of the deep, cameras can only ever show us tantalizing snapshots of the decaying ship – never the whole thing.
The new scan captures the wreck in its entirety, revealing a complete view of the Titanic. It lies in two parts, with the bow and the stern separated by about 800m (2,600ft). A huge debris field surrounds the broken vessel.
The scans allow researchers to see the true state of the wreck in its entirety as it can never see it from a submersible, showing it in context and perspective. Studying the scans could offer new insight and reveal more about how the Titanic was lost.
The scan 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.
Submersibles, remotely controlled by a team on board a specialist ship, spent more than 200 hours surveying the length and breadth of the wreck. They took more than 700,000 photogrammetry images from every angle, creating an exact 3D reconstruction.
Magellan’s Gerhard Seiffert, who led the planning for the expedition, said it was the largest underwater scanning project he’d 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.
The sea is taking its toll on the wreck, microbes are eating away at it and parts are disintegrating. Historians are well aware that time is running out to fully understand the maritime disaster.
But the scan now freezes the wreck in time and will allow experts to pore over every tiny detail. The hope is the Titanic may yet give up its secrets.
See more in the full BBC News article.