China is set to recruit six intrepid “oceanauts”, including two women, as it increases the frequency of its deep-sea exploratory missions.
The People’s Republic set a new record in June when its Jiaolong manned submersible reached a depth of 7,062 metres below sea level on a mission to the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.
From 2013, Jiaolong will increase the frequency of deep-sea dives from a handful per year to over 50, and so will need a bigger team, according to China Daily.
Jiaolong designer Ye Cong revealed that two female oceanauts would be chosen from a group of shortlisted biologists.
However, the candidates are, rather bizarrely, required to have a “higher mental capacity” than their male colleagues, as well as being able to cope with pressure – presumably of the mental and physical variety.
No further explanation is given as to why the two female oceanauts on board need to be brighter than their male colleagues.
China has ramped up its deep sea exploration efforts of late, in an apparent attempt to map the ocean for precious natural resources.
The China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA) has researched the West Pacific Ocean seabed for 15 years and is currently vying with its Japanese equivalent to gain UN approval to explore “cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts” in the region.
In July, the South China Morning Post revealed plans by the state-owned China Ship Scientific Research Centre to build a nuclear-powered mobile deep-sea station which could have space for over 30 crew members.
It said a smaller, 12-man prototype is already in production and could be ready by 2015. ®