UPSC PRELIMS 2020 : Deep Ocean Mission

Deep Ocean Mission

Topic: Deep Ocean Mission

Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology

 

Context:

Deep Ocean Mission

After successfully venturing into space exploration, India will launch its ambitious ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ by October to enter hitherto untapped 75,000 sq km of area in international waters to tap vast marine resources.

 

 Deep Ocean Mission:

  • The ‘Deep Ocean Mission(DOM)’ to be led by the Union Earth Sciences Ministry will commence from October 31, 2019.
  • A major thrust of the mission will be looking for metals and minerals.
  • Mission would be an integrated programmewhere several scientific departments of the government will work together for sustainable harnessing of ocean resources.
  • Underwater robotics and manned submersiblesare key components of the Mission.
  • remotely operable submersible (ROSUB 6000), capable of operating at depths of 6,000 metres, is a part of this mission.
  • The mission includes offshore desalination plant that will work with tidal energy and developing a deep sea submersible vehicle.

 

Significance:

  • It will help India harness various living and non-living (water, mineral and energy) resources from the seabed and deep water.
  • It will help in leveraging the blue economyfor the country’s overall economic growth.

What are Polymetallic Nodules?

  • Polymetallic nodules (PMN) are also known as manganese nodules.
  • They are potato-shaped, largely porous rocksfound in abundance carpeting the sea floor in the deep sea of the world oceans.
  • It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean.
  • India has been allotted a site of 75,000 sq. km. in the Central Indian Ocean Basin(CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).
  • Accessing even 10% of that reserve can meet the energy requirement for the next 100 years.

Exclusive economic zone

Manganese nodules occur in all oceans. But only in 4 regions is the density of nodules great enough for industrial exploitation.

Polymetallic Nodules contain:

  • Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium.
  • Of these metals nickel, cobalt and copperare considered to be of economic and strategic importance.

 

O-SMART:

  • It is an acronym for Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMART).
  • It is a scheme of Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • It encompasses a total of 16 sub-projects addressing ocean development activities such as Services, Technology, Resources, Observations and Science.

Objectives:

  • Strengthening of Ocean Observations and Modelling
  • Strengthening of Ocean Services for Fishermen
  • Setting up Marine Coastal Observatories
  • Continuation of Ocean Survey and Exploration of Minerals and Living Resources
  • Technology Development for Deep Ocean Mining- Deep Mining System and Manned Submersibles
  • Early warning systems for oceanic disasters

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following is responsible for the development of technology for mining of polymetallic modules?

a) Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management

b) Deep-sea technology and ocean mining group

c) Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System

d) Coastal Zone Management

Ans: B

Explanation: Deep-sea technology and ocean mining group is responsible for the development of technology for mining of polymetallic modules. India has joined the race to explore and develop deep-sea mining for rare Earth elements. Hence, B is the correct option.