After reaching the moon, ISRO plans to dive 6,000 meters deep into the sea by 2022
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (
ISRO) completed its design for India’s first manned submersible to boost deep sea exploration.
- Currently, only five other countries around the world have the capability to dive 6,000 meters under the sea with humans onboard.
- The design is yet to be certified but India expects the submersible vehicle to be ready by 2022.
The project is a part of India’s ₹6,500 crore Deep Ocean Mission. By 2022, India plans to join the elite list of nations that have their own underwater manned submersibles. Right now, only China, the US, Russia, France and Japan have the technology to conduct manned deep-sea exploration.
Most submersibles that go 6,000 meters deep are ROVs or remote operated vehicles. They can be controlled using a cable that attaches to the main ship on the surface but they don’t have any humans on board.
India’s submersible vehicle, on the other hand, will be able to carry three people — two scientists and one operator.
"The design for the manned submersible's sphere has been successfully developed by ISRO. Now it has to be certified and then we will go ahead with the fabrication," said Madhavan Nair, from the Ministry of Earth Sciences during a press conference at the National Institute of Ocean Technology ( NIOT).
How India’s deep sea submersible works
The submersible is going to be a titanium sphere with a diameter of 3.2 meters. The craft will be lowered from the main ship and can remain underwater for eight to ten hours. Once underwater, the onboard pilot or operator can steer the vehicle underwater.
The base of the sphere will be a glass pane so that crew members can view the seafloor. Using a robotic arm, the crew will be able to collect samples.
According to NIOT, the goal of the mission is to study rare marine life, explore the ocean bed for mineral resources, recover lost objects and repair underwater equipment.
Building the manned submersible
Designing the titanium crew module is a challenge. While the material is ideal to withstand high water pressure, it’s also difficult to mold.
The design will take another month to get certified by an agency in Germany. After which, it will take another year to physically put it together.
While ISRO is in-charge of the crew module, other agencies in India are going to be pitching in as well. NIOT, for instance, will be developing electronics and navigation for the manned submersible.
The National Center for Polar and Ocean Research in Goa, Center for Marine Living Resources and Ecology in Kochi and the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services in Hyderabad are also working on the project.
(With agency inputs)
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