Imagine being able to explore the deepest of oceans and stumbling upon shipwrecks and treasures.
An adventure straight out of a movie, isn’t it?
A team of scientists in Chennai have come up with a preliminary design for a manned submersible that will soon make deep-sea exploration a reality in India.
Designed by the scientists at ESSO-National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), this will be India’s first manned submersible that will reportedly accommodate a three-member crew.
The submersible is expected to delve as deep as 6km into the oceans, which could prove beneficial towards finding precious metals and discovering lesser-known life forms.
Having submitted a proposal and currently awaiting approval from the government, the project is estimated to be operational in a span of five years, with a budget of ₹500 crore.
“Once we get the nod, an expert committee with members from scientific institutions like ISRO, DRDO and IIT will review and fine tune the design,” said Satheesh Shenoi, who is the director of NIOT, reports TOI.
Shenoi explained that the craft, which will be lowered into the sea from a carrier ship, would permit the crew to be underwater for 8 to 10 hours. With a 3.2-diameter titanium sphere where the scientists will lie prostrate, the craft will have a robotic arm equipped to collect marine samples and a glass-viewing panel for the crew.
Currently, one of the major projects undertaken by the Union ministry is the Deep Sea Mission, under which polymetallic nodules and polymetallic sulphides are being probed in certain regions of Indian Ocean in collaboration with the International Seabed Authority.
According to Shenoi, the submersible will be part of the aforementioned mission once it’s ready. He added that the explorations would become simpler with the manned vehicle.
However, the scientists plan on a dry run before proceeding with the ambitious project. A spherical submersible that can send people up to 500m into the Indian Ocean will be first introduced in the next three years, which will help prepare the scientists for the final mission.
“We are still debating on the material to be used and are looking for companies that can fabricate it here. Once the sphere is ready, we are planning to make other components indigenously. We are in discussions with ISRO too, as many aspects of the vessel are similar to a spacecraft,” Shenoi added.
Once the manned submersible becomes a reality, India will join the group of nations that has been conducting deep-sea exploration programmes. Currently, China, US, Russia, France and Japan are part of the list.