Jiaolong Submersible Sets Off On Historic 5,000 Meter Dive
China’s manned deep-diving submersible Jiaolong (蛟龙) has left a port in Jiangyin, Jiangsu province for a 5,000 meter dive in the Pacific Ocean.
AsianScientist (Jul. 2, 2011) - China's manned deep-diving submersible, Jiaolong (蛟龙), left a port in Jiangyin, Jiangsu province yesterday on board its mother ship, Xiangyanghong 9, for a 5,000 meter dive in the Pacific Ocean.
Only four other nations - the United States, France, Russia and Japan - have the technology for a manned submersible dive at greater than 3,500 meters below sea level.
Named after a mythical sea dragon, the Jiaolong submersible completed 17 dives in the South China Sea between May 31 and July 13 last year, reaching a maximum depth of 3,759 meters with three crew members on board.
This time, it will attempt a five kilometer-deep dive in the Pacific Ocean in the next 47 days, and it is expected to make four dives, said Jin Jiancai, secretary-general of China Ocean Mineral Resources R&D Association (COMRA).
The 8.2 meter, 22 ton submersible was designed to go to a depth of 7,000 meters, which could give China access to 99.8 percent of the ocean floor. Jiaolong is considered to be the world's only deep-sea vessel that can theoretically reach those depths.
Jin noted that safety was the first priority in this mission.
"First of all, we should bear in mind that this is a scientific experiment. Although we have studied the environment as much as possible, there are still some unpredictable conditions,” Jin told China Daily.
"Even if we could not reach the expected depth for some reason, we will achieve the goal of this experiment as long as all our crew members return safely to land," said Jin.
Jin said part of the mission is to fulfill the contract between the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and COMRA, which includes taking photographs and video footage of the sea floor, and measuring submarine topography and geomorphy in the 75,000 square kilometer area designated by the ISA.
"With permits from the ISA, China will be able to explore minerals and other resources for commercial purposes in this area once the technology matures," added Jin.
The three crew members on Jiaolong are Tang Jialing, Fu Wentao, and Ye Cong. Ye, Jiaolong's pilot, has been responsible for 28 of the 37 dives that it has made so far, and he also helped with the design of the craft.
In 2005, five Chinese trainee pilots, including Ye, and one scientist participated in eight dives in Alvin, a manned deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOi).
Source: China Daily.
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