Japan is developing a manned submersible, or bathyscaphe, with the ability to reach a record depth of 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) below sea level, for the purpose of scientifically exploring the oceanic sea-bed, Japanese daily Asahi reported on Wednesday.
The submersible, dubbed 'Shinkai 12000,' will be able to reach areas deeper than the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench (Pacific Ocean), the Earth's deepest known point, at 10,911 meters below sea level.
The submergible, which is being developed for scientific purposes, will become operational by the end of 2020, according to Japan's Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, which is heading the project.
The submersible will be used to search for natural resources and organisms in the sea-bed.
The crew's cabin will be a two-meter (6.6 feet) wide sphere made of toughened glass, with a thickness of five to ten centimeters (two to four inches).
The biggest challenge would be to guarantee the durability of the material, given that at extreme depths and high pressures, glass can shatter with the slightest scratch.
The bathyscaphe will have the capacity to carry six people, and will include a toilet and a resting space, while it will be able to undertake two-day long missions.
So far, Japan's most potent submersible, with similar characteristics, is the 'Shinkai 6500,' which was developed more than 25 years ago and can operate at a depth of 6,500 meters (21,325 feet).
Countries like Russia and France are known to have submersibles that can reach depths of 6,000 meters (19,685 feet), while China possesses one that can reach 7,000 meters (22,966 feet) below sea level.