After successfully sending missions to the Moon and Mars, the ISRO is now readying a spacecraft to orbit Venus to study what lies below the surface of the solar system's hottest planet, and also unravel the mysteries under the sulfuric acid clouds enveloping it. Addressing a day-long meeting on Venusian science, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman S Somnath said the Venus mission has been conceived, a project report made and "money identified".
He urged scientists to focus on high-impact outcomes. "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 in his inaugural address. The space agency is eyeing the December 2024 window for its launch with orbital manoeuvres planned for the following year when Earth and Venus would be so aligned that the spacecraft could be put in the neighbouring planet's orbit using a minimum amount of propellant. The next similar window would be available in 2031.
Somnath also cautioned against repeating experiments conducted by previous missions to Venus and focus on unique high-impact outcomes as were achieved by Chandrayaan-I and Mars Orbiter Mission.
Among the experiments planned include an investigation of the surface processes and shallow sub-surface stratigraphy, including active volcanic hotspots and lava flows, studying the structure, composition, and dynamics of the atmosphere, and investigation of solar wind interaction with the Venusian Ionosphere.