Courtesy Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration.
Robert Ballard is leading a scientific expedition to learn how the Titanic wreckage has changed in the nearly 20 years since he discovered it.
Emory Kristof © National Geographic Society
The Titanic's bow railing, in a photo from a previous expedition.
Robert Ballard returns to explore the Titanic, 19 years after he first located the world's most famous shipwreck. On Monday, Ballard's expedition will be featured in a National Geographic Channel special, Return to Titanic.
With new technology, including improved robotic subs, high-definition cameras and better lighting, Ballard says large sections of the sunken ocean liner are coming into view that weren't visible in his previous expeditions in the mid-1980s.
"It's very majestic," Ballard tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. But over the years the Titanic has been damaged — by submarines that have visited the site, by the removal of artifacts and by natural erosion.
Ballard says he hopes his latest expedition brings attention to the problem of shipwrecks being stripped by salvagers. "The deep sea is the biggest museum in the world... yet there's no lock on the door," he says.