Samudrayaan: Ocean Bed Exploration Targeted by 2025

India has always been a pioneer in space exploration, but now it is also venturing into the depths of the ocean with its ambitious Samudrayaan project. The project, initiated in 2021, involves a crewed expedition to reach a depth of 6,000 metres to the ocean bed in the central Indian Ocean using a deep-ocean submersible called Matsya6000. In this article, we will look at the various aspects of this landmark project and its significance for India and the world.

What is Samudrayaan and why is it important?

Samudrayaan, or the deep ocean mission, is a multi-disciplinary project that aims to study the geology, biology, chemistry and physics of the deep ocean, as well as to explore the potential for mineral and energy resources. The project will also contribute to understanding the impact of human activities on the marine ecosystem and climate change. The project will provide valuable data and insights for enhancing India’s maritime security and blue economy.

The deep ocean is the final frontier on Earth, covering more than 70% of the planet’s surface and containing 95% of its living space. However, it is largely unexplored and unknown, with only about 5% of it mapped in detail. The deep ocean holds immense scientific and economic potential, as it harbours a rich diversity of life forms, some of which are yet to be discovered, as well as vast deposits of minerals, metals and hydrocarbons. The deep ocean also plays a crucial role in regulating the global climate and weather patterns, as it stores large amounts of carbon dioxide and heat.

By undertaking a crewed expedition to the deep ocean, India will not only gain scientific knowledge and technological expertise, but also demonstrate its leadership and commitment to sustainable development and environmental protection. India will also be able to assert its rights and interests in the international arena, as the deep ocean is governed by complex legal and political frameworks that are evolving with new challenges and opportunities.

How will Samudrayaan be executed?

Samudrayaan will be executed by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) through its various institutes and agencies, such as the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and National Institute of Oceanography (NIO). The project will also involve collaboration with other ministries, departments, academic institutions and industries.

The core component of Samudrayaan is the development and deployment of a deep-ocean submersible called Matsya6000, which will take humans up to a depth of 6,000 meters under the sea. The submersible, designed to accommodate a crew of three members, will be equipped with a suite of scientific sensors and tools, such as cameras, sonars, manipulators, samplers and analyzers. The submersible will have an operational endurance of 12 hours, which is extendable up to 96 hours in the event of an emergency.

The submersible will be launched from a mother ship called Sagar Manjusha, which will act as a support platform for communication, navigation and recovery operations. The mother ship will also carry other equipment and vehicles for deep-ocean exploration, such as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and underwater gliders.

The project will involve three phases: design and development; testing and validation; and operation and demonstration. The first phase is expected to be completed by 2024-end, followed by shallow water testing in 2025. The final phase will see the crewed expedition to reach a depth of 6,000 metres to the ocean bed in the central Indian Ocean by 2025-end.

What are the expected outcomes and benefits of Samudrayaan?

Samudrayaan is expected to generate several outcomes and benefits for India and the world in terms of science, technology, economy and society. Some of them are:

  • Advancing scientific knowledge and understanding of the deep ocean environment and its processes
  • Discovering new species and ecosystems in the deep ocean
  • Assessing the potential and feasibility of exploiting deep-ocean resources
  • Developing new technologies and capabilities for deep-ocean exploration
  • Enhancing India’s maritime security and strategic presence in the Indian Ocean Region
  • Promoting international cooperation and collaboration on deep-ocean issues
  • Creating awareness and education among the public and stakeholders on the importance and challenges of the deep ocean
  • Fostering a culture of innovation and excellence among the scientific and technical community
  • Inspiring the next generation of scientists and explorers

Samudrayaan is a landmark project that will showcase India’s scientific and technological prowess in exploring the final frontier on Earth. It will also open up new avenues and opportunities for India’s sustainable development and global leadership in the 21st century.

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