ISRO Announces Preliminary Study On Indian Mission To Venus

The Indian Space Research Organization has commissioned a study to assess the feasibility of launching a scientific mission to Venus.

AsianScientist (Feb. 17, 2012) – Unknown to many, Indian space scientists have been silently working on a project, which if implemented will propel India into a higher orbit in the highly competitive global space arena.

But this silence was broken on Thursday when an ISRO official announced at the 17th National Space Science Symposium that a study was in progress to assess the feasibility of launching an Indian scientific mission to Venus, named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty.

The four-day space meet this week was organized by Sri Venkateshwara University in Tirupati along with the ISRO.

At the conference, ISRO official M. S. Anurup told the delegates that a preliminary study had been carried out, and if the mission is given the green light, it could be launched on May 20, 2015, arriving in Venus in October 2015.

Fixing the launch window will also depend upon orbital parameters.

Space sciences advisory committee requested the study

Anurup said that the Advisory Committee on Space Sciences’ Panel On Planetary Sciences had earlier recommended that a study should be carried out on the Indian Venus mission.

The committee had also suggested that there should be technological development to study the atmospheric and surface phenomena of Venus.

According to this preliminary study, the rocket for the Indian Venus mission could be either the advanced version of the four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), or the newer GSLV Mark III version which is slated to make its maiden flight either later this year or in beginning of 2013.

The study has further added that there could be five scientific instruments on board the Venus mission.

Interestingly, preliminary studies have been initiated on the Venus program even prior to the Indian Mars mission getting an approval. The meeting saw several presentations about Mars and the instruments which an Indian mission will carry, if approved.

Strong global interest in Venus

“Venus is the closest planet to earth, yet it follows a divergent path,” Anurup told the conference audience.

According to him, in the last 50 years there have been 24 missions to Venus, and recently there has been a global interest in Venus. His message to the participants was that in such a scenario India should not miss an opportunity to fly to Venus.

He said that the success of the Chandrayaan-1 mission had clearly proved India’s space capabilities, making one confident that the country can launch a mission to Venus.

In addition, next month the ISRO will be launching a powerful radar imaging satellite, Risat-1. The significance was that radar imaging would be necessary for the Venus mission.

Studying the geology of Venus

Anurup said that scientists had evinced interest in studying the geology of Venus, also called Earth’s “sister planet” for its similar size, gravity, and bulk composition.

Space experts said that Venus is covered with thick clouds, creating a greenhouse effect that made it very hot.

The distance between Earth and Venus is 41,840,000 km at the closest. Its surface is a rocky, dusty, waterless expanse of mountains, canyons, and plains with a 200-mile river of hardened lava.

If approved, the primary role of an Indian scientific mission to Venus would be to study the atmosphere, which is 95 percent carbon dioxide, nitrogen, sulfuric acid, and traces of other elements.

“A mission to Venus will enable us to study the origin and evolution of terrestrial planets and the processes which have shaped and are still shaping Venus. It will also give us an opportunity to study the environment and climate in the earth,” he said.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Srinivas is a journalist with a passion for space exploration.

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