Print Friendly, PDF & Email

India’s Deep Ocean Mission (DOM)

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Science and Technology

 

Source: TH

 

Context: India’s Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) is a comprehensive effort to explore and harness the potential of the ocean’s depths. The article discusses various aspects of DOM.

 

What is Deep Ocean Mission?

It is India’s ambitious program to explore and harness the depths of the ocean. The mission aims to address scientific and economic challenges associated with ocean exploration and resource utilization.

 

In line with Blue Economy:

The Blue Economy aims to sustainably utilize ocean resources for economic growth, livelihood improvement, job creation, and the health of ocean ecosystems.

The DOM is in line with the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ Blue Economy Initiatives, including recently released the draft Blue Economy Policy. DOM is one of nine missions under the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PMSTIAC)

 

Major Components of DOM:

Components Description
Pillar 1: Technology
Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining Design of an Integrated Mining System for extracting polymetallic nodules from the central Indian Ocean, which contain valuable minerals like iron, manganese, nickel, and cobalt.
Exploration studies to pave the way for future commercial exploitation under the International Seabed Authority.
Development of Manned Submersible Vehicle Creation of a manned submersible capable of carrying three people to a depth of 6,000 meters in the ocean, equipped with scientific sensors and tools
Submersible, named Matsya6000 (Joint development by NIOT and ISRO)
Energy and Freshwater from the Ocean Studies and engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plants, which utilize temperature differences in the ocean to extract energy.
Pillar 2: Mineral Exploration
Deep Ocean Exploration Exploration and identification of potential sites of multi-metal Hydrothermal Sulphides mineralization along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges.
Pillar 3: Climate Services
Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services Development of observational tools and models to understand and project important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales.
Pillar4: Ocean Biodiversity
Conservation of Deep-sea Biodiversity Bio-prospecting of deep-sea flora and fauna, including microbes, and sustainable utilization of deep-sea bio-resources.
Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology Focused on human capacity and enterprise development in ocean biology and engineering

 

Major Advancements in DOM Objectives: 

  • Samudrayaan and Matsya6000: Samudrayaan (2021) is a crewed mission to explore the ocean’s depths, reaching 6,000 meters in the Central Indian Ocean. This mission will be carried out using Matsya6000, a deep-ocean submersible designed to accommodate a three-member crew.
    • 6000m depth is strategically significant due to the presence of valuable resources such as polymetallic nodules and sulphides, containing essential metals, found between depths of 3,000 to 5,500 meters.
  • Varaha – India’s Deep-Ocean Mining System: The National Institute of Ocean Technology conducted successful deep-sea locomotion trials using ‘Varaha,’ an underwater mining system, at a depth of 5,270 meters in the central Indian Ocean.

 

Significance of DOM:

Significance Explanation
Leveraging Ocean Resources Oceans play a crucial role in supporting fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods, and blue trade. The UN has declared the decade 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
Discovery of new bio-resources could lead to the development of life-saving medicines.
Leveraging Long Coastline (7517 Km and 1382 Islands) The Government of India’s Vision of New India by 2030 emphasized the Blue Economy as a core dimension of growth.
Gain Technology Expertise The technology and expertise required for deep-sea missions are available in only five countries: the US, Russia, France, Japan, and China. India’s participation makes it the sixth country with this capability.
Climate change solutions Scientific findings from deep-sea research can inform climate change solutions.
Accurate climate projections help coastal areas prepare for sea-level rise and extreme weather events.
Economic Growth Mining polymetallic nodules contributes to economic growth, Job creation and increased revenue.
Coastal communities benefit from access to clean drinking water and reliable energy sources.

 

Major Challenges in Deep Ocean Exploration:

Major Challenges Description
Oceanic Pressure The deep ocean exerts immense pressure, equivalent to carrying about 10,000kg per square meter, posing significant challenges.
Equipment Design The equipment requires robust materials. Also, electronics perform differently underwater compared to space or vacuum environments.
Challenges of Landing The soft and muddy ocean bed makes it difficult for heavy vehicles to land or manoeuvre effectively.
Material Extraction Extracting materials from the ocean floor requires substantial power and energy to pump them to the surface.
Limited Use of Remotely Operated Vehicles Remotely operated vehicles are less effective in deep oceans due to the absence of electromagnetic wave propagation.
Limited Visibility Visibility in the deep ocean is limited, with natural light penetrating only a few tens of meters, unlike space observations.
Other Compounded Challenges Temperature variations, corrosion, and salinity add complexity to deep-sea exploration, necessitating comprehensive solutions.

 

Conclusion:

The future of deep ocean exploration relies on biologically-inspired engineering solutions, drawing from nature, especially marine organisms. Biomimicry can lead to the development of materials and structures tailored for the challenging deep-sea environment, offering enhanced adaptability and resilience overcoming limited visibility in the deep ocean requires integrating diverse sensor technologies like sonar and lidar to enhance navigation and exploration. Additionally, environmental impact mitigation is vital, necessitating international regulations for responsible deep-sea exploration, and balancing scientific progress with ecological preservation.

 

Other Blue Economy Initiatives:

  • India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy: A collaborative effort between India and Norway established in 2020 to pursue joint initiatives for sustainable development.
  • Sagarmala Project: A strategic initiative aimed at modernizing ports and fostering port-led development through IT-enabled services.
  • O-SMART: India’s comprehensive program regulating ocean and marine resource use for sustainable development.
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management: Focused on conserving coastal and marine resources and improving livelihood opportunities for coastal communities.
  • National Fisheries Policy: Promotes the ‘Blue Growth Initiative’ for the sustainable use of marine and aquatic resources in India.

 

Insta links

 

Prelims Links

With reference to the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2022)

  1. A coastal state has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from a baseline determined in accordance with the convention.
  2. Ships of all states, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.
  3. The Exclusive Economic Zone shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.

 

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Ans: D

 

What is blue carbon? (UPSC 2021) 

(a) Carbon captured by oceans and coastal ecosystems
(b) Carbon sequestered in forest biomass and agricultural soils
(c) Carbon contained in petroleum and natural gas
(d) Carbon present in the atmosphere

 

Ans: A