Deep Ocean Mission – Launch Date, Significance, and Goals

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Deep Ocean Mission was announced in the Union Budget 2020-21. The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) will carry out the Deep Ocean Mission under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). The deep ocean is poorly explored due to technological challenges. It is also the least understood region on Earth. The knowledge gained through Deep Ocean Mission will help India explore and harness these resources sustainably with minimal ecological impact.

The Deep Ocean Mission will also help better understand climate change, cyclones, and tsunamis. We know little about how this region may respond to climate change or global warming. India’s Deep Ocean Mission will help us understand how these changes may affect life on land and our weather patterns.

India’s Deep Ocean Mission – Overview

India has announced an Rs 8,000 crore Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) to explore and exploit the abundant resources of the ocean.

  • The UN International Sea Bed Authority approved the DOM, which will focus on areas from deep-sea mining to marine biotechnology.
  • Deep Ocean Mission is a long-term oceanographic program focusing on harnessing its resources and protecting the marine environment.
  • It will create a national framework for conducting multidisciplinary ocean research, including deep-sea mining and mineral prospecting.
  • India’s Deep Ocean Mission will also help India build its oceanic exploration capabilities and develop data collection and resource exploitation technology.
  • Under the Ministry for Earth Sciences, the Department of Ocean Development will implement the Deep Ocean Mission.
  • The Minister for Earth Sciences said the mission would generate substantial employment opportunities in many areas, including deep-sea exploration.

Deep Ocean Mission PIB – Significance

India’s coastline is about 7,500 km long, and its exclusive economic zone in the Indian Ocean covers roughly 2.2 million square kilometres. Given this vast expanse, India must understand the oceans better.

  • India is gearing up to explore the ocean depths with India’s Deep Ocean Mission launch.
  • The project aims to boost scientific knowledge and ocean-based economic activity.
  • The Deep Ocean Mission comes under the Earth Sciences ministry, also called the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).

What is the Need for Deep Ocean Mission?

  • India is blessed with 2.2 million square kilometres of an Exclusive Economic Zone. And its deep sea is “unexplored and unutilized” to date that contains polymetallic nodules or rare-earth metals.
  • The estimated recovery of 10% of the sea resources can meet India’s energy needs for the subsequent 100 years. This is why Deep Ocean Mission can be crucial.
  • An independent association founded in 1982, The International Seabed Authority (ISA), United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), permits the ‘area’ for deep-sea mining.
  • In 1987, India became a ‘Pioneer Investor. ‘ The ISA issued approximately 1.5 lakh sq kilometres in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) to research the nodules (rocks containing manganese and iron hydroxides around a centre).
  • In 2002, after an entire resource study of the ocean bed, 50% was abandoned, and the country maintained an area of 75,000 sq km.
  • The ‘First Generation Mine-site’ narrowed the mining site to 18,000 sq km through further analyses and evaluations.
  • South Korea, Russia, France, Germany, China, Japan, and some little islands such as Kiribati and the Cook Islands have joined the competition for deep-sea mining. This is why Deep Ocean Mission can help India.

Progress of the Deep Ocean Mission

  • A remotely operable submersible (ROSUB 6000) capable of operating at depths of 6,000 meters has already been developed and tested successfully up to 5,289 meters in depth.
  • Remotely operable in-situ soil testing equipment has also been developed for getting detailed geotechnical properties of the mining area at the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB).
  • Setting up coastal marine observatories for monitoring marine pollution, early warning systems for ocean disasters, and acquisition of coastal research vessels under the scheme Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMART), etc.

Benefits of Deep Ocean Mission

India is a developing country with a vast population. It has to serve the ever-growing demands of people and Fastrack’s economic development. Deep Ocean Mission may solve many of the problems facing today:

  • Extraction of rare earth metals can be used in electronic devices, smartphones, batteries, and even solar panels, which may help India to become a world Electronic Manufacturing Hub.
  • Deep Ocean Mission can help in exploiting tidal energy and resources, thereby harnessing sustainable energy sources.
  • Ocean research can help predict earthquakes and tsunamis.
  • Deep Ocean Missio may find new sources for medical drugs, food, and other product.
  • Besides identifying the mineral resource and developing technologies for mining and extraction, the program has also resulted in high-impact research and workforce development.
  • Deep Ocean Mission will improve India’s position in the ocean research field.

Deep Ocean Drilling Project

  • Deep Ocean Drilling Project is one of the three International scientific Ocean drilling programs that has served its operation for more than 4 decades.
  • The Atlantic Ocean has the deepest drilling of 10000 feet under the water.

Goals of Deep Ocean Mission

India is set to launch a significant exploration of the ocean floor to harness the enormous untapped resource potential of the deep seas.

Deep-sea mining:

  • India plans to mine polymetallic nodules from the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) in 2025 through Deep Ocean Mission.
  • These nodules are rich in copper, nickel, and cobalt.
  • The Deep Sea Mining Unit (DSMU), responsible for this project, has identified three sites in CIOB for exploration.

Marine Bio Search:

  • This component aims to improve marine biodiversity research by exploring deep-sea organisms and their bioactive molecules.
  • Deep Ocean Mission will also focus on developing methods for drug discovery from marine sources.

Ocean Observation:

  • This component of Deep Ocean Mission will focus on observing ocean currents and changes in the deep sea due to climate change or human interventions.
  • The government announced India’s Deep Ocean Mission name to expand its maritime capabilities.
  • The center has finalized a broad framework of a new mission to strengthen India’s presence on the high seas and tap the resources on the seabed.

Components of Deep Ocean Mission

There are six main components of India’s Deep Ocean Mission. These are-

Development Of Technology For Deep Sea Mining:

  • With a scientific sensor and tool collection, a submersible will reach a depth of 6000 m in the sea.
  • Few countries have only attained this ability.
  • The polymetallic nodules will also be mined using the combined mining system from a depth of 6000 m in the central Indian ocean.

Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services:

  • As a part of this proof of Concept component, the observations and a few models will be developed to know the crucial climate variables at the seasonal and decadal scales.
  • It will add an extra benefit to promoting tourism in the coastal area due to the blue economy.

Technology Innovation For Exploration And Conservation Of Deep-Sea Biodiversity:

  • The primary focus of the portion mission will be bioprospecting flora and fauna in the deep sea, including the microbes, and studying how to use deep-sea mining to find bio-resources.
  • This blue economy element will help sea fisheries and associated services.

Deep Ocean Survey And Exploration:

  • Deep Ocean Mission also aims to identify and explore the multi-metal hydrothermal sulfide mineralization sides near the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges is the primary objective of this component.
  • Furthermore, the deep-sea exploration of ocean resources is another priority area of the blue economy.

Energy And Fresh Water From The Ocean:

  • Given proof of Concept proposal contemplates an Offshore ocean thermal energy conservation forward desalination plant.
  • This part will sustain offshore energy development by contributing to the blue economy priority area.

Advanced Marine Station For Ocean Biology:

  • This component of Deep Ocean Mission aims to develop ocean biology, Engineering capacity, and enterprise.
  • A business incubator facility will help translate the research into industrial application and product expansion.

How will Deep Ocean Mission be conducted?

India’s Deep Ocean Mission will explore the bottom of the Indian Ocean and further India’s indigenization and technology development.

  • It is India’s first mission to explore the deep sea.
  • Deep Ocean Mission will be undertaken by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in collaboration with other central ministries, departments of state governments, and research institutions.
  • The mission aims to harness ocean resources for sustainable economic growth.
  • Deep Ocean Mission will collect data through surveys using vessels, submersibles, and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs).
  • Under this initiative, India will develop technology for deep-sea mining, exploration of energy resources, and marine biotechnology.
  • Deep Ocean Mission will also develop technologies for deep-sea mining and the exploration of energy resources.
  • When marine pollution increases due to the dumping of plastic waste in the oceans, India’s Deep Ocean Mission seeks to protect this natural resource and use technological innovations to enhance the exploration and exploitation of ocean resources.

Environmental Impacts of Deep Ocean Mission

  • Ocean mining conducted in several countries has been a significant concern for many environmentalists.
  • Because this field is unexplored, it is essential to predict its repercussions, and it can be done through Deep Ocean Mission.
  • Due to mining practices and consequent oil spills in many countries, the sediment plumes may have formed and can cause serious concerns.
  • As soon as the mission takes off and the research begins, India seems optimistic about its results and analysis.
  • Another important fact related to it is that since the temperature at the profound depth of the ocean is shallow, most species that can survive in extreme conditions can be discovered with the help of the Deep Ocean Mission.
  • As a part of India’s Deep Ocean Mission, all the activities performed follow ISA regulations and ensure that biodiversity does not get disrupted.

India’s Preparedness for Deep Ocean Mission 2022

  • There is shallow temperature and high pressure at India’s mining site, located at a depth of 5500 meters.
  • Also, the team of Deep Ocean Mission has deployed remotely operated vehicles to a depth of 6000 m in the central Indian ocean basin and comprehensively understands the mining areas.
  • The newly developed mining machine has moved approximately 900 m for 6000 m depth that will be deployed at 5500 m shortly.
  • It is essential to keep an eye on the weather conditions as the ship’s availability and weather conditions also play a vital role in Deep Ocean Mission.
  • An umbilical or electromechanical cable and a Horse Riser system are being developed to bring the nodules to the surface.

Deep Sea Mining

Deep sea mining is retrieving minerals deposited on the seas’ beds. Most countries are competing with each other to meet the demand for metals.

  • Polymetallic Nodules can be mined underwater at specific locations.
  • The country must get it from ISA under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to gain authorization for Deep Sea Mining of PNM.
  • India became recognized as a “Pioneer Investor” in 1987 and was the first nation to receive this designation.
  • It was then given a 1.5 lakh square kilometre territory to mine PMN.
  • Following a resource appraisal in 2002, ISA gave India a 75,000 square kilometre area.

According to the Ministry of Earth Science’s investigation, the following finding was discovered:

  • Potential polymetallic nodules can be found – at 880 MT (approximately)
  • Magnesium – 92.59 MT (approximately)
  • Cobalt – 0.55 MT (approximately)
  • Nickel – 4.7 MT (approximately)
  • Copper – 4.29 MT (approximately)

Challenges of Deep Ocean Mission

  • Deep Ocean Mission requires huge research, development, and technology expenses as it involves state-of-the-art technologies that pressure submersibles to carry individuals or remote-controlled automobiles.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared these isolated places could be dwelling to uncommon species acclimating to environmental conditions such as sunlight, elevated pressure, insufficient oxygen, and temperatures. It is another challenge for Deep Ocean Mission.
  • ISA says Deep Ocean Mission will be commercially viable only if about three million tonnes are mined annually
  • Deep-sea mining can cause species to vanish before they are even understood by science.
  • Environmentalists also worry about the deposit plumes induced as the suspended particles can ascend to the surface, damaging the filter tributaries in the ocean’s upper layers.
  • Additional concerns of Deep Ocean Mission is about the light and noise pollution from the oil spills, and mining motorcars from the working ships have been raised.
  • ISA says Deep Ocean Mission will be commercially viable only if about three million tonnes are mined annually.
  • Undermines progress toward UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12, which aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns of energy and resources, and SDG 14, which aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources
  • Deep Ocean Mission leads to greater exploitation of the resources that aggravate ecological concerns.

Deep Ocean Mission UPSC

The Deep Ocean Mission finds its relevance in the GS Paper-2, GS Paper-3 and GS Paper 1 of the UPSC Syllabus. That’s why it becomes important for UPSC aspirants to go through this topic thoroughly. This article covers all the facts and information about Deep Ocean Mission that can help candidates during their UPSC Exam preparation.

Deep Ocean Mission UPSC Notes

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