Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
MIR (submersible)

MIR (submersible)

Discussion
Ask a question about 'MIR (submersible)'
Start a new discussion about 'MIR (submersible)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia


Mir (Russian: "Мир", world or peace) is a self-propelled Deep Submergence Vehicle
Deep Submergence Vehicle
A Deep Sea Submergence Vehicle is a deep diving manned submarine that is self-propelled. The term DSV is generally one used by the United States Navy, though several navies operate vehicles that can be accurately described as DSVs...

. The project was initially developed by the USSR Academy of Sciences
Russian Academy of Sciences
The Russian Academy of Sciences consists of the national academy of Russia and a network of scientific research institutes from across the Russian Federation as well as auxiliary scientific and social units like libraries, publishers and hospitals....

 (now the Russian Academy of Sciences) along with Design Bureau Lazurith. Later two vehicles were ordered from Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

. The Mir 1 and Mir 2, delivered in 1987, were designed and built by the Finnish company Rauma-Repola's Oceanics subsidiary. The project was carried out under the supervision of constructors and engineers of the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology
Shirshov Institute of Oceanology
Shirshov Institute of Oceanology in Moscow, is the largest institute for ocean and earth science research, in Russia, established in 1946.- Fleet :* RV Akademik Ioffe...

.

Characteristics


The vessels are designed to be used for scientific research. They might also be used to assist in submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 rescue operations, although they do not have the capacity to take anybody aboard when underwater. The carrier and command centre of both Mir submersible
Submersible
A submersible is a small vehicle designed to operate underwater. The term submersible is often used to differentiate from other underwater vehicles known as submarines, in that a submarine is a fully autonomous craft, capable of renewing its own power and breathing air, whereas a submersible is...

s is the R/V
Research vessel
A research vessel is a ship designed and equipped to carry out research at sea. Research vessels carry out a number of roles. Some of these roles can be combined into a single vessel, others require a dedicated vessel...

 Akademik Mstislav Keldysh
Akademik Mstislav Keldysh
The R/V Akademik Mstislav Keldysh is a 6,240 ton Russian scientific research vessel. It is best known as the support vessel of the Mir submersibles. The vessel has made over 50 voyages, is owned by the Moscow-based Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Science and is...

. Currently the two Mir units are operated by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The MIR submersibles can dive to a maximum depth of 6,000 metres (19,685 ft). This makes them two of only seven manned submersibles in the world that can dive beyond 3,000 metres (9,843 ft), the others being the US submersibles Alvin
DSV Alvin
Alvin is a manned deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The vehicle was built by General Mills' Electronics Group in the same factory used to manufacture breakfast cereal-producing...

, Sea Cliff
DSV Sea Cliff
DSV-4 is a 25-ton, manned deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy. It is sister to DSV-3 Turtle, Alvin , and also an Alvin class Deep Submergence Vehicle. The Sea Cliff was retired from active service in 1998. Per the Naval Vessel Register , DSV-4 was returned to active...

 and Deepstar 20000, the Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese owned Shinkai
DSV Shinkai
The Shinkai 6500 is a manned research submersible that can dive up to a depth of 6,500 m. It was completed in 1990 and has the greatest depth range of any manned research vehicle in the world. The only manned expedition to have gone deeper was the dive of the Trieste bathyscaphe in 1960. However,...

 and the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 owned Nautile
Nautile
The Nautile is a manned submersible owned by Ifremer, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea. Commissioned in 1984, the submersible can be operated at depths of up to ....

. Up to 98% of the world’s oceans are no deeper than 6,000 metres. All these deep-ocean submersibles utilize three-person crews.

Traditionally, the personnel sphere of a deep sea submersible is manufactured of titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

 plates that are welded
Welding
Welding is a fabrication or sculptural process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by causing coalescence. This is often done by melting the workpieces and adding a filler material to form a pool of molten material that cools to become a strong joint, with pressure sometimes...

 together. On Mir, the personnel sphere is made of a maraging steel
Maraging steel
Maraging steels are steels which are known for possessing superior strength and toughness without losing malleability, although they cannot hold a good cutting edge. Aging refers to the extended heat-treatment process...

 alloy that has 10% better strength/weight ratio than titanium. This alloy contains about 30% cobalt
Cobalt
Cobalt is a chemical element with symbol Co and atomic number 27. It is found naturally only in chemically combined form. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal....

 and smaller amounts of nickel
Nickel
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile...

, chrome
Chromium
Chromium is a chemical element which has the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in Group 6. It is a steely-gray, lustrous, hard metal that takes a high polish and has a high melting point. It is also odorless, tasteless, and malleable...

 and titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

. Two hemispheres were made by casting
Casting
In metalworking, casting involves pouring liquid metal into a mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowing it to cool and solidify. The solidified part is also known as a casting, which is ejected or broken out of the mold to complete the process...

 and machining
Machining
Conventional machining is a form of subtractive manufacturing, in which a collection of material-working processes utilizing power-driven machine tools, such as saws, lathes, milling machines, and drill presses, are used with a sharp cutting tool to physical remove material to achieve a desired...

, and then bolted together, thus avoiding welded joints. The resulting construction is close to the density of water, thus making it easier to move in different depths. Additional buoyancy
Buoyancy
In physics, buoyancy is a force exerted by a fluid that opposes an object's weight. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus a column of fluid, or an object submerged in the fluid, experiences greater pressure at the bottom of the...

 is provided by 8 cubic metres (282.5 cu ft) of syntactic foam
Syntactic foam
Syntactic foams are composite materials synthesized by filling a metal, polymer or ceramic matrix with hollow particles called microballoons, "syntactic" meaning "put together"...

. Unlike other Deep Submergence Vehicles that use iron ballast to reach the ocean floor, the buoyancy and depth is adjusted by ballast tank
Ballast tank
A ballast tank is a compartment within a boat, ship or other floating structure that holds water.-History:The basic concept behind the ballast tank can be seen in many forms of aquatic life, such as the blowfish or argonaut octopus, and the concept has been invented and reinvented many times by...

s.
  • The Mir is 7.8 m long, 3.6 m wide, 3.0 m high, and weighs 18,600 kg (maximum payload is 290 kg). The personnel sphere's walls are 5 cm thick, and the inside diameter of the working area is 2.1 m. Three viewports are provided (viewport material is 18 cm thick): the forward-facing port is 20 cm diameter; the two side-facing ports are 12 cm diameter each.
  • Power is provided by NiCad batteries
    Nickel-cadmium battery
    The nickel–cadmium battery ' is a type of rechargeable battery using nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium as electrodes....

     of 100 kWh capacity. Electric motors drive hydraulic pumps to actuate hydraulic manipulators and 3 propulsors. The aft hydraulic propulsor is rated at 9 kW and 2 side propulsors are rated at 2.5 kW each. Maximum underwater speed is 5 knots.
  • Longitudinal trim is controlled using 2 spherical water ballast tank
    Ballast tank
    A ballast tank is a compartment within a boat, ship or other floating structure that holds water.-History:The basic concept behind the ballast tank can be seen in many forms of aquatic life, such as the blowfish or argonaut octopus, and the concept has been invented and reinvented many times by...

    s, fore and aft. Water can be forced out of these tanks as required by using compressed air.
  • Air pressure inside the cabin remains at a constant one atmosphere: the air is recycled in a manner similar to that used on board spacecraft, with lithium hydroxide scrubbers removing accumulated carbon dioxide.
  • VHF radio
    VHF radio
    VHF radio refers to several communications services in the VHF frequency range, including:* Airband aircraft radio* Amateur radio in the 6, 2 and 1-1/4 meter bands* FM radio broadcasts* Marine VHF radio...

     is used to maintain communication with the surface. The units contain imaging sonar
    Sonar
    Sonar is a technique that uses sound propagation to navigate, communicate with or detect other vessels...

     units of 250 metre range, so nearby objects can be visualized and their distance measured. The distance to the seabed can also be accurately measured when nearing touchdown.
  • The units' life-support systems have 246 man-hour capacity, or 3.42 days for a three-person crew.
  • The units are designed for pressure at 6,000 metre depth, and have been tested to 125% of that pressure. In field testing, Mir-1 descended to 6,170 m and Mir-2 descended to 6,120 m.
  • Originally the hydraulic manipulators were covered by a helmet-like retractable see-through visor
    Visor
    A visor is a surface that protects the eyes, such as shading them from the sun or other bright light or protecting them from objects....

    , but these were removed in a major overhaul in 1994.
  • Mir changes depth at a maximum vertical speed of 40 m per minute, so several hours are required to travel to and from deep sites.

Finnish-Soviet co-operation


Production of the two MIR units was a prime example of Finnish-Soviet economic and technical co-operation during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. Bids from Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 to construct the submarines had been retracted most likely due to political pressure. In a later interview with STT
Suomen Tietotoimisto
Oy Suomen Tietotoimisto – Finska Notisbyrån Ab is a Finnish news agency, established in 1887 and based in Helsinki. Its largest owners are Alma Media, Sanoma and Turun Sanomat. YLE also owns a part of it....

 the then Rauma-Repola department head Peter Laxell said he believed that "Finland got the permit to deliver the crafts to the Soviets on the basis that the CoCom
CoCom
CoCom is an acronym for Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls. CoCom was established by Western bloc powers in the first five years after the end of World War II, during the Cold War, to put an arms embargo on COMECON countries.CoCom ceased to function on March 31, 1994, and the...

 officials in the USA
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 believed the project would be a failure . . . Once it became clear to them we actually had accomplished the engineering feat there was a huge uproar about how such technology could be sold to the Soviets, enough for many visits to the Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

."
.

Because of the CoCom
CoCom
CoCom is an acronym for Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls. CoCom was established by Western bloc powers in the first five years after the end of World War II, during the Cold War, to put an arms embargo on COMECON countries.CoCom ceased to function on March 31, 1994, and the...

 restrictions, most of the technology used had to be developed in Finland
Finnish Maritime Cluster
The Finnish Maritime Cluster is a cluster of companies in maritime industries in Finland. In 2001 the total turnover was estimated at 11.4 billion euros with 47,000 people employed in shipbuilding and related industries.-History:...

. The electronics was developed by Hollming. The syntactic foam was produced in Finland by Exel Oyj, as 3M
3M
3M Company , formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation based in Maplewood, Minnesota, United States....

, the leading producer, refused to supply their product.

The level of technology flowing into the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 raised concern in the USA and Rauma-Repola was privately threatened with economic sanctions. For example, one concern of the Pentagon was the possibility that the Soviet Union would manufacture a pioneer submarine fleet that could clear the ocean floor of U.S. deep sea listening equipment
SOSUS
SOSUS, an acronym for Sound Surveillance System, is a chain of underwater listening posts across the northern Atlantic Ocean near Greenland, Iceland and the United Kingdom — the GIUK gap. It was originally operated by the United States Navy for tracking Soviet submarines, which had to pass...

. With the possibility of losing its lucrative offshore oil platform
Oil platform
An oil platform, also referred to as an offshore platform or, somewhat incorrectly, oil rig, is a lаrge structure with facilities to drill wells, to extract and process oil and natural gas, and to temporarily store product until it can be brought to shore for refining and marketing...

s market Rauma-Repola yielded, and submarine development ceased in Finland. One project that was abandoned was the development of a fuel cell
Fuel cell
A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Hydrogen is the most common fuel, but hydrocarbons such as natural gas and alcohols like methanol are sometimes used...

 based air-independent propulsion
Air-independent propulsion
Air-independent propulsion is a term that encompasses technologies which allow a submarine to operate without the need to surface or use a snorkel to access atmospheric oxygen. The term usually excludes the use of nuclear power, and describes augmenting or replacing the diesel-electric propulsion...

 system.

The 122 m length support vessel R/V Akademik Mstislav Keldysh
Akademik Mstislav Keldysh
The R/V Akademik Mstislav Keldysh is a 6,240 ton Russian scientific research vessel. It is best known as the support vessel of the Mir submersibles. The vessel has made over 50 voyages, is owned by the Moscow-based Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Science and is...

was also built in Finland, at the Hollming shipyard in Rauma
Rauma, Finland
Rauma is a town and municipality of ca. inhabitants on the west coast of Finland, north of Turku, and south of Pori. Granted town privileges on May 17, 1442 , Rauma is known of its high quality lace , and of the old wooden architecture of its centre , which is a Unesco world heritage...

 in 1980 (now STX Finland).

Titanic and Bismarck filming


In the mid 1990s and early 2000s, the MIR vehicles were used by Canadian film director James Cameron
James Cameron
James Francis Cameron is a Canadian-American film director, film producer, screenwriter, editor, environmentalist and inventor...

 to film the wreck of the RMS Titanic, resting at a depth of 3,821 metres, for his 1997 film Titanic
Titanic (1997 film)
Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson, Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater and Billy Zane as Rose's fiancé, Cal...

and documentaries such as Ghosts of the Abyss
Ghosts of the Abyss
Ghosts of the Abyss is a 2003 documentary film released by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media. It was Disney's first film produced in 3-D and was directed by Academy Award winning filmmaker James Cameron after his Oscar winning film Titanic...

, and to film the wreck of the Bismarck
German battleship Bismarck
Bismarck was the first of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the German unification in 1871, the ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1936 and launched nearly three years later...

, resting at a depth of 4,700 metres, for his 2002 documentary film Expedition: Bismarck
Expedition: Bismarck
Expedition: Bismarck is a 2002 documentary film produced for the Discovery Channel by Andrew Wight and James Cameron, directed by James Cameron and Gary Johnstone, and narrated by Lance Henriksen. The film follows an underwater expedition to the German battleship Bismarck and digitally reconstructs...

.

2007 North Pole submersion



On August 2, 2007 Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 used the MIR submersibles to perform the first manned descent to the seabed under the Geographic North Pole
North Pole
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface...

, to a depth of 4,261 m, to scientifically research the region in relation to the 2001 Russian territorial claim. The Mir-1 crew: pilot Anatoly Sagalevich
Anatoly Sagalevich
Anatoly Mikhailovich Sagalevich is a Russian explorer, who works at the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences since 1965....

; polar explorer Arthur Chilingarov; and Vladimir Gruzdev
Vladimir Gruzdev
Vladimir Sergeyevich Gruzdev is a Russian politician, the governor of Tula Oblast., businessman and explorer.Vladimir Gruzdev was born in 1967 in Bolshevo, Moscow oblast, to a military officer and a teacher...

. The MIR-2 crew were international: Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n pilot Yevgeny Chernyaev; Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n Mike McDowell; Swede
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 Frederik Paulsen
Frederik Paulsen Jr
Prof Dr hc mult Frederik Paulsen is an established businessman, academic, philanthropist and explorer.-Early life:Frederik Dag Arfst Paulsen was born on 30 October 1950 in Stockholm, Sweden. His father was Dr Frederik Paulsen Sr, the founder of Ferring Pharmaceuticals...

.

On the seabed Mir-1 planted a one meter tall rustproof Flag of Russia
Flag of Russia
The flag of Russia is a tricolour flag of three equal horizontal fields, white on the top, blue in the middle and red on the bottom. The flag was first used as an ensign for Russian merchant and war ships and only became official in 1896...

, made of titanium alloy
Titanium alloy
Titanium alloys are metallic materials which contain a mixture of titanium and other chemical elements. Such alloys have very high tensile strength and toughness , light weight, extraordinary corrosion resistance, and ability to withstand extreme temperatures...

 at OKB
OKB
OKB is a transliteration of the Russian acronym for "Опытное конструкторское бюро" - Opytnoe Konstructorskoe Byuro, meaning Experimental Design Bureau...

 "Fakel" in Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea...

, and left a time capsule
Time capsule
A time capsule is an historic cache of goods or information, usually intended as a method of communication with future people and to help future archaeologists, anthropologists, or historians...

, containing a message for future generations and a flag of United Russia
United Russia
United Russia is a centrist political party in Russia and the largest party in the country, currently holding 315 of the 450 seats in the State Duma. The party was founded in December 2001, through a merger of the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia parties...

. Soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

 and water samples
Sample (material)
In general, a sample is a limited quantity of something which is intended to be similar to and represent a larger amount of that thing. The things could be countable objects such as individual items available as units for sale, or a material not countable as individual items. Samples of countable...

 of the seabed were taken during the mission.

Mistaken controversy


A short time after announcement of the polar expedition, some newspapers tried to stir up controversy by claiming the expedition was fake because some of the footage was from James Cameron's movie Titanic. In fact, a Russian television network had used the Titanic footage (for which it holds the copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

) as an illustration of the deep-sea vessels in action. They had shown this hours before the Mirs had arrived on the Arctic seabed, and they had specifically pointed out that the footage was from the movie, not a transmission from the site. Reuters
Reuters
Reuters is a news agency headquartered in New York City. Until 2008 the Reuters news agency formed part of a British independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data...

 did not note this information when it carried the story, and used the pictures wrongly captioned. Reuters later apologized and issued a statement reading in part: Reuters mistakenly identified this file footage as originating from the Arctic, and not the North Atlantic where the footage was shot, and they reposted the story with correct captions.

2008-2009 Expedition to Lake Baikal


In July 2008 both Mirs initiated a two-year expedition to Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal is the world's oldest at 30 million years old and deepest lake with an average depth of 744.4 metres.Located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and the Buryat Republic to the southeast, it is the most voluminous freshwater lake in the...

, the world's largest freshwater
Freshwater
Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

 reservoir. The expedition is being led by the Russian Academy of Sciences. During the expedition around 160 descents are planned to the bottom of the lake, which is largely unexplored to this point. On the descent that occurred on August 1, Russian Prime Minister Putin
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second President of the Russian Federation and is the current Prime Minister of Russia, as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when...

 accompanied the dive in the southern portion of the lake.

2011 Lake Geneva exploration



In summer 2011, both Mirs are conducting a scientific exploration program in Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva or Lake Léman is a lake in Switzerland and France. It is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. 59.53 % of it comes under the jurisdiction of Switzerland , and 40.47 % under France...

called elemo (exploration des eaux lémaniques), in which researchers are conducting studies in areas such as bacteriology and micropollutants, as well as exploring Lake Geneva's geology and physics. The submersibles arrived on Lake Geneva in May 2011.

External links