Samudryaan: India gears up to send three people to depth of 6000 meters in Submersible
Written By Rajan Das
India is gearing up for a historic mission to explore the deep sea. The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, has announced that it will send three people to a depth of 6000 meters in a submersible vehicle called Samudryaan.
By 2026, the project should be completed. The Samudrayaan project supports the central government’s vision for a “New India,” which emphasizes the Blue Economy as a crucial aspect of progress.
Samudryaan, which means ocean vehicle in Sanskrit, is a three-person submersible vehicle, MATSYA 6000 that can operate for up to 16 hours at a time. It is designed to withstand the immense pressure and low temperatures of the deep sea, as well as to collect samples and data for scientific research. The submersible will be launched from a mother ship that will provide power, communication and support.
The mission aims to explore the Indian Ocean, which covers about 20% of the Earth’s surface and holds vast resources and biodiversity. The deep sea is largely unexplored and offers immense potential for discovery and innovation. The mission will also enhance India’s capabilities and leadership in ocean technology and marine science.
The NIOT has been working on the development of Samudryaan since 2016, with the help of international experts and collaborators. The project is part of the Deep Ocean Mission, a multi-disciplinary initiative by the Ministry of Earth Sciences to study and harness the ocean resources. The mission also includes developing underwater robots, sensors, mining equipment and biotechnology.
The NIOT has already tested a prototype of Samudryaan at a depth of 520 meters in 2018, and plans to test it further at 1500 meters and 3000 meters in the coming years. The final version of the submersible will be ready by 2023, and will undergo rigorous trials before the actual mission in 2024.
The mission will be a milestone for India and the world, as it will open new frontiers of knowledge and exploration in the deep sea. It will also showcase India’s technological prowess and scientific vision in the field of oceanography. Samudryaan will be a symbol of India’s ambition and aspiration to dive deeper into the ocean realm.
The Mission’s Background
Samudryaan is a part of India’s Deep Ocean Mission, which was launched in 2018 with a budget of Rs 4,077 crore (about $550 million). The mission has five components: development of technologies for deep sea mining, manned submersible, ocean climate change advisory services, marine biodiversity conservation and marine biotechnology. Samudryaan falls under the second component, and it is expected to be completed by 2023.
The main objective of Samudryaan is to develop and demonstrate the capability of manned submersible operations in the Indian Ocean up to a depth of 6000 meters. This will enable India to join an elite club of countries that have achieved this feat, such as the US, Russia, China, Japan and France. The submersible vehicle will be equipped with various scientific instruments and sensors to collect data and samples from the deep-sea environment. It will also have robotic arms and cameras to perform tasks such as picking up rocks, corals and organisms.
The submersible vehicle will be operated by three people: a pilot, a co-pilot and a scientist. The pilot will be responsible for maneuvering the vehicle and communicating with the surface vessel. The co-pilot will assist the pilot and monitor the systems and instruments. The scientist will conduct the research activities and document the findings. The three people will be selected from a pool of candidates who have undergone rigorous training and medical tests. They will also have to wear special suits that can withstand the high pressure and low temperature of the deep sea.
The submersible vehicle will be launched from a mother ship that will provide support and logistics. The mother ship will have a crane that can lower and lift the submersible vehicle from the water. It will also have a control room that can communicate with the submersible vehicle via acoustic signals. The mother ship will be able to track the location and status of the submersible vehicle at all times.
The submersible vehicle will have a spherical pressure hull that can accommodate the three people and their equipment. The pressure hull will be made of titanium alloy that can resist corrosion and deformation under high pressure. The pressure hull will have two hatches: one for entry and exit, and another for emergency escape. The pressure hull will also have six viewports that can provide a panoramic view of the surroundings.
The submersible vehicle will have a propulsion system that can propel it forward, backward, up, down, left and right. The propulsion system will consist of thrusters that can generate thrust in different directions. The propulsion system will also have batteries that can store electrical energy for powering the systems and instruments. The batteries will be recharged by the mother ship after each dive.
The submersible vehicle will have a navigation system that can guide it along a predefined route or a desired destination. The navigation system will consist of an inertial navigation unit (INU) that can measure the acceleration, velocity and orientation of the vehicle; a Doppler velocity log (DVL) that can measure the speed and direction of the vehicle relative to the sea floor; a depth sensor that can measure the depth of the vehicle; and a global positioning system (GPS) receiver that can receive signals from satellites when near the surface.
The submersible vehicle will have a communication system that can transmit and receive data and voice messages from the mother ship or other submersibles.
The communication system will consist of an acoustic modem that can send and receive acoustic signals through water; an optical modem that can send and receive optical signals through water; and a radio modem that can send and receive radio signals when near the surface.
The submersible vehicle will have a scientific payload that can collect data and samples from the deep sea environment. The scientific payload will consist of various instruments and sensors such as:
- A multibeam echosounder (MBES) that can map the topography of the sea floor
- A side scan sonar (SSS) that can image the features of the sea floor
- A sub-bottom profiler (SBP) that can penetrate the sediments below the sea floor
- A conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) sensor that can measure the salinity, temperature and pressure of seawater
- A dissolved oxygen sensor (DO) that can measure the oxygen concentration in seawater
- A pH sensor that can measure the acidity or alkalinity of seawater
- A turbidity sensor that can measure the clarity or cloudiness of seawater
- A fluorescence sensor that can measure the chlorophyll or organic matter content in seawater
- A camera system that can capture high-resolution images and videos of the deep sea environment
- A sampling system that can collect water, sediment and biological samples from the deep sea environment
- A robotic arm that can manipulate objects and perform tasks such as picking up rocks, corals and organisms
The submersible vehicle will have a safety system that can protect the vehicle and the crew from any hazards or emergencies. The safety system will consist of various devices and procedures such as:
- A pressure relief valve (PRV) that can release excess pressure from the pressure hull
- A ballast system that can adjust the buoyancy of the vehicle by adding or releasing water
- A drop weight system that can release a heavy weight from the vehicle to make it ascend rapidly in case of emergency
- A life support system that can provide oxygen, carbon dioxide removal, temperature control, humidity control and lighting for the crew
- A fire extinguisher that can put out any fire inside the pressure hull
- A first aid kit that can provide medical supplies for the crew
- An emergency escape hatch that can allow the crew to exit the vehicle in case of emergency
- An emergency locator beacon (ELB) that can emit a signal to indicate the location of the vehicle in case of emergency
Samudryaan is a visionary project that will open new frontiers of knowledge and discovery in the deep sea. It will also enhance India’s capabilities and reputation in the field of ocean technology and science.