Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) is all set to add another feather to its cap as it is now eyeing Venus after its successful Mangalyaan mission to Mars. It will be India’s maiden mission to Venus and moving a step ahead, ISRO has invited space-based experiments to explore the planet.
What is Announcement of Opportunity (AO)?
Announcement of Opportunity (AO) has been made by ISRO with an aim to seek space experiments to study the planet. ISRO has invited proposals from institutions in India with the last date for the same being set for May 19, 2017, the Bengaluru-headquartered ISRO) said.
The eligibility for sending proposals is that one should be currently involved in planetary exploration studies development of science instruments for space, or willing to develop the experiments, ISRO said on its website.
When will Venus mission be launched?
ISRO has not announced the time-frame for the Venus mission but reports suggest that it won’t happen any time before 2020.
What ISRO Chairman says about Venus mission?
ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar has said that the Venus mission is on the horizon and studies are underway.
“Beyond that, Mars second mission and Venus mission are all on the horizon, we have to go through the various studies and then formulate, get the approval and move. Right now, they are all in the study phase,” he said while referring to the two new bold inter-planetary sojourns to Earth’s immediate neighbours.
Earth and Venus - ‘Twin sister’:
Venus and Earth have similarities in size, mass, density, bulk composition and gravity because of which the former is often described as the ‘twin sister’ of the latter.
Sharing a common origin, both the planets, it is believed, formed at the same time out of a condensing nebulosity around 4.5 billion years ago.
According to ISRO, flyby, orbiter, a few lander missions and atmospheric probes explored Venus and the exploration of the planet began in early 1960s.
Venus is around 30% closer to the sun as compared to Earth as a result of which it has much higher solar flux.
Aim of ISRO’s Venus mission:
According to ISRO, though Venus has been explored in the past, still there exist gaps in the basic understanding about the surface, sub-surface features and processes, super rotation of Venusian atmosphere and its evolution and interaction with solar radiation/solar wind. The aim of ISRO’s mission to Venus is to study all such aspects.
About the satellite:
ISRO says the playload capability of the proposed satellite is expected to be 175 kg with 500W of power. However, these values will be tuned depending upon the requirements during the final configuration, it said.
The space agency said the proposed orbit is likely to be around 500 x 60,000 km around Venus. However, it is likely to be brought down gradually over several months to a lower apoapsis, it said.
The point on an orbit closest to the orbited body is called the periapsis, while the furthest point is known as the apoapsis.
ISRO’s planetary missions:
In 2013, ISRO successfully launched a mission to Mars, marking India’s second planetary mission. The project was worth Rs 450 crore.
In 2008, ISRO had sent an orbiter to the Moon and a second moon landing mission is planned reportedly in early 2018.
Previous missions to Venus:
In 1963, a robotic space probe called the American Mariner 2 was launched on Venus. In 1970, a Soviet Spacecraft Venera 7 landed on the surface of Venus and beamed back data to Earth.
NASA obtained additional data with the project Pioneer Venus in 1978. According to reports, there were several flybys that were carried out between 1980-1990 apart from Russia’s continued interest in Venus.
In April 2006, European Space Agency put the Venus Express, long-term observation mission, into the orbit around Venus. In December 2015, Japan sent Akatsuki to the planet.
Closest to Earth approximately every 583 days, Venus is the second planet from the Sun. Similar to Earth in several aspects, Venus takes only 225 days to revolve around the Sun. It’s closeness to the Sun, makes it hotter.
It will be another feather in the cap for India if ISRO’s mission to Venus turns out to be successful.