ISRO in­vites for­eign ‘rid­ers’ to Venus

Seeks ex­per­i­ment ideas from space agen­cies, uni­ver­si­ties and re­searchers

The Hindu - - NATION - Mad­hu­mathi D.S.

An 18-month-old pitch for what could be the first In­dian or­biter mis­sion to Venus has just been re­freshed and re­launched, open­ing it up now for in­ter­na­tional ex­per­i­ments.

Ten­ta­tively mark­ing the yet to be named ‘Mis­sion Venus’ for mid-2023, the In­dian Space Re­search Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ISRO) plans to study the planet from an el­lip­ti­cal or­bit that is clos­est to Venus at 500 km and 60,000 km at the far­thest end — sim­i­lar to its Mars Or­biter Mis­sion (MOM) of 2013.

The lat­est an­nounce­ment op­por­tu­nity (AO) does not spec­ify the weight of the space­craft; it plans to send up in­stru­ments or pay­loads to­tally weigh­ing 100 kg. (MOM’s pay­loads weighed nearly 15 kg.)

The new round in­vites space-based ex­per­i­ment ideas on Venus from space agen­cies, uni­ver­si­ties and re­searchers.

They should com­ple­ment a dozen In­dian ex­per­i­ments that have been shortlisted from among re­sponses that came in for the AO of April 2017. It had then planned a to­tal pay­load of 175 kg. The re­sponses were said to be fewer and be­low ex­pec­ta­tions.

3rd in­ter­plan­e­tary dash

Cur­rently be­ing han­dled by the Space Sci­ence Pro­gramme Of­fice, the en­tire project must be vet­ted by the Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee on Space Sciences and ap­proved by the Space Com­mis­sion and even­tu­ally the govern­ment.

From the Moon or­biter mis­sion Chan­drayaan-1 in 2008 and the ₹450 crore MOM, the Venus voy­age — if ap­proved — would be ISRO’s third in­ter­plan­e­tary dash.

A lu­nar lan­der and rover mis­sion called Chan­drayaan-2 is get­ting ready to take off in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary 2019.

ISRO says that it may lower the or­bit of its fu­ture Venus space­craft af­ter a while for sharper ob­ser­va­tions. Ac­cord­ing to an in­formed ISRO official, the Venus mis­sion would be com­pa­ra­ble to the phe­nom­e­nally pop­u­lar MOM in terms of its the or­bit and the cost.

The official said the plan was in very early stages and would get finely de­fined once the ex­per­i­ments were cho­sen. They would de­cide the weight of the space­craft and the rocket that it would need.

A file photo of sci­en­tists mon­i­tor­ing the Mars Or­biter Mis­sion.

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