HomeScience & TechISRO postpones India's Venus mission till 2031

ISRO postpones India’s Venus mission till 2031

P. Sreekumar, Satish Dhawan Professor at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and advisor to its space science programme, said that ISRO has not received formal approval and funding from the government to send a Venus mission and that the mission may be delayed to 2031 as a result .

Optimal launch windows from Earth to Venus occur once every 19 months; the backup dates were 2026 and 2028 if the 2024 window was missed, but the 2031 window is currently very good.

Shukrayaan I will be on an orbital mission. It currently has a high-resolution synthetic aperture radar and a ground-penetrating radar as a science payload. From an elliptical orbit, the mission is expected to study Venus’ geological and volcanic activity, ground emissions, wind speed, cloud cover and other planetary characteristics.

• Both the US and European space agencies are planning 2031 Venus missions – VERITAS and EnVision – while China may launch around 2026 or 2027.

What causes the delay?

• ISRO initially planned to launch Shukrayaan I in mid-2023, but the pandemic pushed the date to December 2024. Other ISRO missions, including Aditya L1 and Chandrayaan III, have also been affected by production delays and commercial launch commitments.

• Optimal launch windows from Earth to Venus occur once every 19 months. This is why ISRO has “backup” launch dates of 2026 and 2028 in case it misses the 2024 opportunity.

• But even more optimal windows, which further reduce the amount of fuel needed for liftoff, come every eight years.

• Right now, experts consider the 2031 window very good.

• The mission is also “awaiting formal approval and money” needed before the spacecraft can be assembled and tested.

What is Mission Shukrayaan I?

Shukrayaan I will be an Orbiter mission. Its scientific payloads currently include high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and ground-penetrating radar. SAR would probe the surface of Venus despite the clouds surrounding the planet, which reduce visibility.

Denotes a technique for creating high-resolution images. Thanks to its accuracy, the radar can penetrate clouds and darkness, meaning it can collect data day and night in all weather conditions.

The mission is expected to study Venus’ geological and volcanic activity, ground emissions, wind speed, cloud cover and other planetary characteristics from an elliptical orbit.

 Shukrayaan-I will be launched on either GSLV Mk II or GSLV Mk III, which allows for carrying more instruments or fuel, according to ISRO.

Objectives:

o Surface process research and shallow subsurface stratigraphy. Until now, no previous observations of the subsurface of Venus had been made.

1) Stratigraphy is a branch of geology that studies rock layers and layering.

2) The study of the structure, composition and dynamics of the atmosphere.

3) Research on the interaction of the solar wind with the ionosphere of Venus.

Meaning:

It will help find out how Earth-like planets develop and what conditions exist on Earth-sized exoplanets (planets that orbit a star other than our Sun). It will help model Earth’s climate and serve as a cautionary tale of how dramatically the planet’s climate can change.

What is Venus?

• It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. It is the second planet from the Sun and the sixth largest in the solar system in terms of size and mass.

• It is the second brightest natural object in the night sky after the Moon.

• Unlike the other planets in our solar system, Venus and Uranus rotate clockwise on their axis.

• It is the hottest planet in the solar system due to its high concentration of carbon dioxide, which creates an intense greenhouse effect.

• A day on Venus is longer than a year. Venus takes longer than one revolution of the Sun to rotate once on its axis. That’s 243 Earth days for one rotation—the longest rotation of any planet in the Solar System—and only 224.7 Earth days for one orbit around the Sun.

• Venus has been called Earth’s twin because of the similarities in their masses, sizes and densities and their similar relative positions in the solar system. No planet comes closer to Earth than Venus; at its nearest it is the nearest large body to Earth other than the Moon. Venus has 90 times the atmospheric pressure of Earth.

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