India is preparing for a groundbreaking Deep Ocean Mission aimed at exploring and utilizing the largely uncharted depths of the ocean. This mission offers significant potential for scientific discoveries and economic benefits.
GS III: Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Deep Ocean Mission
- Key Advancements in DOM Objectives
- Major Challenges in Deep Ocean Exploration
About Deep Ocean Mission
The Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) is a visionary initiative led by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) aimed at advancing deep-sea exploration technologies and capabilities.
Part of PMSTIAC:
DOM is an integral component of the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PMSTIAC), which encompasses nine distinct missions.
The major objectives proposed under Deep Ocean Mission are as follows:
- Development of technologies for deep sea mining, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics;
- Development of ocean climate change advisory services;
- Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep sea biodiversity;
- Deep ocean survey and exploration;
- Proof of concept studies on energy and freshwater from the ocean; and
- Establishing advanced marine station for ocean biology.
Key Advancements in DOM Objectives:
Samudryaan and Matsya6000:
- Samudrayaan, a flagship component of DOM, was launched in 2021 under the guidance of the Minister of Earth Sciences.
- This groundbreaking mission seeks to conduct a crewed expedition to delve to a depth of 6,000 meters into the ocean floor within the Central Indian Ocean.
- Matsya6000, a specially designed deep-ocean submersible capable of accommodating a three-member crew, will facilitate this historic journey.
- Constructed from a titanium alloy, the sphere of Matsya6000 is engineered to endure pressures of up to 6,000 bar.
Varaha – India’s Deep-Ocean Mining System:
- The National Institute of Ocean Technology, an autonomous institute under MoES, has successfully conducted deep-sea locomotion trials using ‘Varaha,’ an underwater mining system.
- These trials were carried out at a depth of 5,270 meters in the central Indian Ocean, signifying a significant milestone in deep-sea resource exploration.
Major Challenges in Deep Ocean Exploration
Deep ocean exploration poses numerous formidable challenges that must be overcome to advance our understanding and utilization of this uncharted frontier. These challenges include:
High Pressure Conditions:
- The deep ocean exerts immense pressure, equivalent to carrying a weight of about 10,000 kg per square meter, which places extreme stress on objects and equipment.
- The harsh conditions necessitate the use of meticulously designed and robust materials for equipment.
- Electronics and instruments often function more efficiently in space or vacuum conditions, and poorly designed objects may collapse or explode underwater.
Soft Ocean Bed:
- The soft and muddy surface of the ocean bed makes it exceptionally challenging for heavy vehicles to land or maneuver effectively.
- Extracting materials from the ocean floor demands significant power and energy to pump them to the surface, adding to the complexity of deep-sea resource extraction.
Ineffectiveness of Remotely Operated Vehicles:
- Remotely operated vehicles are ineffective in the deep ocean due to the absence of electromagnetic wave propagation, limiting their control and data transmission capabilities.
- Natural light penetration in the deep ocean is limited, with visibility extending only a few tens of meters underwater, in stark contrast to space observations facilitated by telescopes.
- Deep-sea exploration is further complicated by various environmental factors such as temperature variations, corrosion, salinity, and other conditions, which require comprehensive solutions to address.
-Source: The Hindu