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19th June, 2024 Geography


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Picture Courtesy: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/11-sites-identified-for-survey-under-deep-ocean-mission-project-jitendra-singh/article66838829.ece

Context: India is set to become the 6th country in the world to have its own Deep Sea Mission.


  • The Deep Sea Mission aims to contribute greatly to the overall growth of the Indian economy. It is not limited to mineral exploration but also focuses on the development of ocean sciences, exploration of flora and fauna, and the conservation of marine biodiversity.
  • As part of the mission, the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) has developed the Matsyayaan 6000, a vessel capable of diving 6,000 meters deep into the ocean.

Deep Sea Mission

  • A "Deep Sea Mission" refers to a scientific study to understand the depths of the ocean, which are among the least explored and understood parts of our planet.
  • The ambitious Deep Ocean Mission (DOM), launched through the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), aims to develop technologies to harness both living and non-living deep-ocean resources.
  • These missions can involve advanced technology, specialised vehicles like submersibles or remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and a diverse range of scientific disciplines such as marine biology, geology, oceanography, and climatology.
  • The mission focuses on six thematic areas:
    • Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining, Manned Submersible, and Underwater Robotics.
    • Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services.
    • Technological Innovations for Exploration and Conservation of Deep-Sea Biodiversity.
    • Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration.
    • Energy and Freshwater from the Ocean.
    • Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology.

Key objectives of the deep sea mission

Study Marine Biodiversity: Conduct comprehensive surveys to catalogue and understand the diversity of marine species at various depths. Investigate unique adaptations of organisms to deep-sea environments, such as bioluminescence and extreme pressure tolerance.

Explore Flora and Fauna: Document and study deep-sea ecosystems, including habitats like hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, and abyssal plains. Identify new species and study their ecological roles and evolutionary adaptations.

Conduct Mineral Exploration (Rare Earth Metals, Polymetallic Nodules): Utilize deep-sea exploration technologies to survey mineral-rich areas for potential extraction of rare earth metals and polymetallic nodules. Assess environmental impacts and feasibility of sustainable resource extraction.

Develop Ocean Sciences: Advanced understanding of oceanographic processes, including deep-sea currents, circulation patterns, and nutrient cycles. Investigate the role of the deep sea in global climate regulation and carbon sequestration.

Technological Innovations

Develop Matsyayaan 6000 (Capable of Diving 6000m Deep)

  • Design and construct a manned submersible capable of reaching depths of up to 6000 meters.
  • Equip the submersible with state-of-the-art navigation, imaging, and sampling systems to support deep-sea research objectives.
  • Ensure operational safety and efficiency in extreme-pressure environments.

Utilize Titanium Hull Technology for Extreme Pressure Resistance

  • Incorporate titanium alloys in the construction of submersibles and deep-sea equipment to withstand high hydrostatic pressures.
  • Enhance structural integrity and durability to ensure long-term operation under challenging conditions.

Implement Self-Floatation Technology for Emergency Scenarios (Up to 72 Hours Submerged)

  • Develop and integrate emergency buoyancy systems that activate automatically or manually in critical situations.
  • Utilize inflatable buoyancy bags, foam modules, or ballast release mechanisms to maintain buoyancy and facilitate safe ascent to the surface.
  • Include robust monitoring and control systems to ensure reliability and effectiveness during emergency operations.

Integration and Impact

  • Synergy: The combination of advanced exploration goals and technological innovations enables comprehensive and sustainable deep-sea research.
  • Environmental Responsibility: Emphasis on mineral exploration is balanced with environmental stewardship to mitigate potential ecological impacts.
  • Scientific Advancement: Advances in ocean sciences contribute to broader understanding of Earth’s ecosystems and natural resources.

Collaboration with ISRO for Deep Sea Exploration

Technology Integration

  • Sensors and Instrumentation: ISRO's experience with remote sensing instruments, cameras, and scientific payloads can be utilized for deep-sea sensors and imaging systems. These technologies can enhance the capabilities of underwater vehicles like the Matsyayaan 6000 to capture high-resolution images and data from deep-sea environments.
  • Communication Systems: ISRO has developed robust communication systems for space missions. Adapting these for underwater use can improve communication reliability between deep-sea vehicles and surface vessels or control centres, enabling real-time data transmission and remote operation capabilities.
  • Navigation and Positioning: ISRO’s expertise in satellite navigation systems (such as GPS and satellite-based augmentation systems) can enhance underwater navigation accuracy. This is crucial for precise manoeuvring and mapping in deep-sea environments where traditional GPS signals may be unreliable.

Data Management and Analysis

  • Data Acquisition: ISRO’s capabilities in acquiring and managing large volumes of data from space missions can be applied to deep-sea exploration. This includes developing systems for collecting diverse data types (e.g., environmental parameters, and biological samples) efficiently and securely.
  • Data Analysis: Leveraging ISRO’s expertise in satellite data analysis and remote sensing techniques can help interpret complex data collected from deep-sea missions. This includes processing imagery, mapping geological features, and monitoring environmental changes over time.

Training and Expertise Exchange

  • Technical Training: Collaborating with ISRO allows for knowledge exchange on mission planning, operational protocols, and safety procedures. This ensures that deep-sea mission teams are well-prepared to handle complex operations and challenges in extreme environments.
  • Scientific Expertise: ISRO’s scientists and engineers bring valuable insights into interdisciplinary research methodologies, benefiting marine biologists, oceanographers, and geologists involved in the deep-sea mission. This cross-disciplinary collaboration enhances the scientific output and discoveries made during the mission.

Public Engagement and Outreach

  • Educational Programs: ISRO and the deep-sea mission organizers can jointly develop educational programs to inspire students and the public about the importance of space and ocean exploration. This includes outreach initiatives in schools, universities, and communities to foster interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
  • Media and Communications: Partnering with ISRO enhances the visibility and public awareness of the deep-sea mission through coordinated media campaigns and public relations activities. This promotes transparency and shares the excitement of exploration achievements with a global audience.

Strategic Benefits

  • Technological Advancement: Integrating ISRO’s space technologies accelerates the development of innovative solutions for deep-sea exploration, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in extreme marine environments.
  • Cost Efficiency: Collaboration reduces duplication of efforts and costs associated with technology development, making optimal use of existing capabilities and resources from both space and marine sectors.
  • International Collaboration: Enhances India’s global standing in marine science and technology through collaborative efforts with international partners, fostering diplomatic relations and scientific cooperation.

Economic Impact

Commercial Exploitation of Minerals and Metals

  • Deep-sea exploration can uncover valuable mineral deposits such as rare earth metals and polymetallic nodules found on the ocean floor. These minerals are essential for high-tech industries, including electronics, renewable energy technologies, and aerospace.
  • By identifying and assessing these resources, India can potentially develop sustainable mining operations that contribute to economic growth and reduce dependency on imported minerals.

Boost to India's Blue Economy

  • The blue economy encompasses economic activities that directly or indirectly derive value from the ocean. Deep-sea exploration and subsequent exploitation of resources can significantly contribute to expanding India's blue economy sector.
  • This includes creating employment opportunities in sectors such as marine engineering, underwater robotics, logistics, and environmental monitoring services.

Enhanced Resource Management

  • Understanding deep-sea resources through exploration helps in developing effective resource management strategies. This includes sustainable exploitation practices that minimize environmental impact while maximizing economic benefits.
  • Improved resource management can lead to better planning and utilization of marine resources, ensuring long-term economic stability and growth.

Environmental Impact

Preserve Marine Biodiversity

  • Deep-sea ecosystems are often fragile and home to unique species adapted to extreme conditions. Exploration efforts should prioritize conservation to mitigate the impact of mining activities and other human disturbances.
  • Implementing protected areas and conservation measures based on scientific research helps preserve biodiversity hotspots and sensitive habitats.

Study Deep-Sea Ecosystems

  • Deep-sea exploration provides valuable insights into ecosystems that are poorly understood. By studying these environments, scientists can identify key species, understand ecological interactions, and monitor environmental changes over time.
  • This knowledge informs conservation strategies and contributes to global efforts to protect marine biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Strategic Significance

Strengthen India's Capabilities in Deep Sea Exploration

  • Investing in deep-sea exploration enhances India's technological prowess and scientific expertise in marine sciences. This strengthens national capabilities to conduct independent research and exploration missions in deep ocean environments.
  • Building indigenous technologies, like the Matsyayaan 6000 and advanced sensors, reduces reliance on foreign countries for critical equipment and expertise.

Reduce Dependency on Foreign Technology and Resources

  • By developing domestic capabilities in deep-sea exploration and mineral resource management, India can reduce its dependency on foreign technology imports and resource supplies.
  • This strategic autonomy enhances national security and economic resilience, ensuring India's ability to meet its technological and resource needs independently.

Way Forward

Enhanced Technological Capabilities

  • Advanced Submersibles: Development of more advanced manned and unmanned submersibles capable of greater depths and extended missions.
  • Robotics and AI: Integration of robotics and artificial intelligence for more autonomous and efficient underwater exploration and resource extraction.
  • Data Analytics: Use of big data analytics and machine learning to analyze the vast amounts of data collected from deep-sea missions for better decision-making and predictions.

Resource Utilisation and Management

  • Sustainable Mining: Implementation of environmentally sustainable deep-sea mining practices to minimize ecological impact.
  • Bio-prospecting: Exploration of deep-sea organisms for bioactive compounds with potential applications in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and other industries.
  • Energy Resources: Investigation of methane hydrates and other deep-sea energy resources for potential exploitation.

Climate and Environmental Research

  • Climate Change Impact Studies: Continued research on how deep-sea environments are affected by climate change and the implications for global climate systems.
  • Carbon Sequestration: Exploration of deep-sea carbon sequestration methods to mitigate the effects of global warming.

Biodiversity and Conservation

  • Marine Protected Areas: Identification and establishment of deep-sea marine protected areas to conserve biodiversity and ensure the sustainability of ecosystems.
  • Species Discovery and Cataloging: Ongoing efforts to discover and catalogue new species in the deep sea, contributing to global biodiversity records.

International Collaboration and Governance

  • Global Partnerships: Strengthening collaborations with international organizations, research institutions, and countries engaged in deep-sea exploration.
  • Policy and Regulation: Contributing to the development of international policies and regulations for deep-sea mining and conservation to ensure fair and sustainable use of ocean resources.


  • India's Deep Ocean Mission enhances ocean exploration and resource utilization, contributing to global oceanographic knowledge and sustainable development. The mission includes technology innovation, resource assessment, biodiversity research, and climate studies, leading to discoveries, economic opportunities, and climate change mitigation strategies. Continued investment, international collaboration, and sustainable practices are key for long-term success and global benefit.

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Q. India's Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) aims to achieve several critical objectives to advance its capabilities in ocean exploration and resource utilisation. Which of the following objectives are integral to DOM's agenda?

1. Develop cutting-edge technologies for deep-sea mining operations, including advancements in manned submersibles and underwater robotics.

2. Foster the establishment of sustainable ocean tourism initiatives to promote public awareness and engagement with deep-sea ecosystems.

3. Implement comprehensive ocean climate change advisory services to monitor and mitigate the impacts of global climate change on marine environments.

4. Undertake extensive efforts to explore and safeguard the biodiversity of deep-sea ecosystems through innovative conservation strategies and scientific research.

How many of the above statements are correct?

A) Only one

B) Only two

C) Only three

D) All four

Answer: C