Deep Ocean Mission Current Affairs - 2020

Samudrayaan project: NIOT to Launch Deep Sea Exploration & Mining Mission

National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) will launch ‘Samudrayaan project by 2021-22 to explore the deep sea region. It is pilot project of Union Ministry of Earth Sciences as part the Rs 6000 crore ‘Deep Ocean’ mission for deep ocean mining of rare minerals.

Samudrayaan project

It proposes to send indigenously developed submersible vehicle with three persons to a depth of about 6000 metres to carry out deep underwater studies.  It will be undertaken by the NIOT, Chennai and is in line with ISRO’s ambitious ‘Gaganyaan’ mission of sending an astronaut to space by 2022. It is expected to become a reality by 2021-22. The indigenously developed submersible vehicle developed as part of this project is capable of crawling on sea bed at a depth of 6km for 72 hours. Whereas, currently submarines deployed can only go about 200 metres deep into the sea. The project will go deeper in phases with more trials and ocean mining is expected to commence in 2022. The expenditure of this ambitious project is expected to be around Rs 200 crore.

Significance of Project: If it is successful, India will join selected league of developed nations in the exploration of minerals from deep oceans. Developed countries have already carried out such missions. India could be 1st developing country to undertake such a project.

Background

International Sea Bed Authority (ISBA) has allocated India75,000 sq km site in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) for exploration of polymetallic nodules from seabed. The estimated resource of polymetallic nodules in this site is about 380 million tonnes, containing 92.59 million tonnes of manganese, 4.29 million tonnes of copper, 4.7 million tonnes of nickel and 0.55 million tonnes of cobalt.

Government unveils blueprint of Deep Ocean Mission

Union Ministry of Earth Sciences has unveiled blueprint of Deep Ocean Mission (DOM). The mission proposes to explore deep-ocean by emulating success of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in designing and launching satellites. For this mission, Centre has drawn up a five-year, Rs. 8,000 crore plan to explore deep recesses of the ocean.

Features of Mission

The focus of DOM is on deep-sea mining, ocean climate change advisory services, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics related technologies. Two key projects planned under it include desalination plant powered by tidal energy and submersible vehicle that can explore depths of at least 6,000 metres.

Background

India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) spreads over 2.2 million sq. km and in the deep sea, lies unexplored and unutilised. Besides, India has been allotted site of 1,50,000 sq. km in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by United Nations International Sea Bed Authority (UN-ISBA) for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN). These are rocks scattered on seabed containing iron, nickel, manganese and cobalt. It is envisaged that 10% of recovery of that large reserve can meet energy requirement of India for next 100 years. It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in CIOB.