India can put a spacecraft on Venus in very short time, plan ready: S Somnath

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After successfully sending missions to the Moon and Mars that have established India as a space fairing nation, the Indian Space and Research Organisation (Isro) is ready to send an orbiter to Earth’s mysterious twin — Venus. Isro chairman S Somnath, during a one-day meeting to discuss space-based studies, said that the capability of building and launching a mission to the planet exists with India.

The mission will be aimed at studying the Venusian atmosphere, which is toxic and corrosive in nature with clouds of sulfuric acid covering the planet. Isro chairman said that work on the mission has been going on for years and that the space agency is ready with a mission plan and funds needed to sustain the exploration.

“Work has been going for years. Currently, the Venus mission is conceived, the project report is made, overall plans are ready, money identified, all that thing is done. Building and putting a mission on Venus is possible for India in a very short space of time, as the capability today exists with India,” Somnath said.

WHY IS VENUS IMPORTANT?

Several countries, including the US, are planning to send missions to Venus as they try and understand how it became an inferno. Experts have long suggested that Venus was once like Earth and is therefore described as it is twin. However, its fate was sealed due to climate change.

As India emerges on the global stage as a champion of low-cost interplanetary missions, Venus is the next destination with plans to explore asteroids in the future. The one-day conference is being held by Isro to discuss different mission objectives for the orbiter and see if any additional observations can be made that have not been done in the past.

Isro chairman said that the mission team will work on identifying the uniqueness of the mission similar to what we saw with the Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan missions. “Goal is to review what unique additional knowledge observation can be done and see that we are not repeating what all has already been done. Repeating some of them is not a crime, but if we bring uniqueness, it will have an impact globally. It will be hailed only if it is unique, just like Chandrayaan and the Mars mission,” Somnath said.

MISSIONS HEADED TO VENUS

Apart from Isro’s orbiter mission, Nasa is sending two spacecraft to study Venus. The American space agency has earmarked nearly $1 billion to explore the inferno world of Venus. The funding will be divided equally among the two missions dubbed DAVINCI+ and VERITAS which are expected to launch to Earth’s evening star between 2028-2030.

The missions aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world when it has so many other characteristics similar to Earth. Apart from Nasa, the European Space Agency has also announced a mission to the neighbouring planet. Europe’s EnVision will be the next orbiter to circle over Venus, providing a holistic view of the planet from its inner core to the upper atmosphere.

Isro is yet to release a timeline for the mission as work begins on building the spacecraft.

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