India Venus Mission: ISRO plans to launch Shukrayaan mission in December 2024- Know about India's first Venus Mission

India's Venus Mission: ISRO aims to launch Shukrayaan mission in the December 2024 window when earth and Venus are aligned closely enough for the spacecraft to be put in the planet's orbit using minimum propellant. 

Image captured by NASA's Parker Solar Probe during its Venus flyby, Credit: NASA/APL/NRL
Image captured by NASA's Parker Solar Probe during its Venus flyby, Credit: NASA/APL/NRL

India Venus Mission: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to launch India's first Venus Mission 'Shukrayaan-I' in December 2024 window. The Shukrayaan mission is a planned orbiter to Venus to study the planet's surface and atmosphere. 

Shukrayaan will be India's first orbiter mission to Venus after sending similar missions to the Moon and Mars. The mission aims to study the surface of the hottest planet in our solar system and unravel the mysteries under the Sulfuric Acid clouds enveloping it.

ISRO Chairman S Somnath said in a recent meeting, "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." He further informed that the Venus mission has been conceived, project report has been made and money has been identified, and urged scientists to focus on high impact outcomes as were achieved by the Chandrayaan-I and Mangalyaan. 

The ISRO Chairman stressed on not repeating what has already been done saying, "Goal is to review that 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."

ISRO  Space Science Programme Officer T Maria Antonita said in her presentation that no prior observation of the sub-surface of Venus has been done, "So, we will be flying the sub-surface radar for the first time. It will penetrate the sub-surface of Venus upto a few hundred meters."

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Shukrayaan mission launch date

ISRO aims to launch Shukrayaan mission in the December 2024 window with orbital maneuvers planned for the following year when earth and Venus would be aligned so closely that the spacecraft could be put in its designated orbit using minimum propellant. If ISRO misses this window, the next time similar window would be available only in 2031.

Shukrayaan mission: Key Planned Experiments 

  • 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
  • Investigation of solar wind interaction with the Venusian Ionosphere

Key Instruments

  • The most important instrument will be a high resolution synthetic aperture radar to examine the Venusian surface that is covered by thick clouds. 
  • Instrument to examine the planet's atmosphere in infrared, ultraviolet and submillimeter wavelengths.
  • Venusian Neutrals Analyzer to examine how charged particles from the sun interact with the atmosphere of Venus. ( Swedish- Indian collaboration)

International Instruments

  • Venus Infrared Atmospheric Gases Linker (VIRAL) ( Collaboration between LATMOS, France and Russian federal space agency Roscosmos)
  • IVOLGA: A laser heterodyne NIR spectrometer to study structure and dynamics of the Venusian mesosphere.

Shukrayaan mission Goal

The main goal is to study the Venusian surface, which is covered by dense clouds that make it impossible to view the planet's surface.

Researchers had announced a possible detection of phosphine, a life-friendly element, in Venus' atmosphere earlier in 2022. 

Venus Missions

Several missions have flown to Venus since the 1960s but only a few in recent years. The European Space Agency's Venus Express orbited the planet between 2006 and 2014 and Japan sent Akatsuki spacecraft that entered the planet's orbit in 2015 after a previous unsuccessful attempt. Akatsuki is one of the few missions that are operational around Venus.

The others include spacecrafts performing flybys of Venus in the near future, including NASA's Parker Solar Probe and ESA's BepiColombo en route to Mercury and the Solar Orbiter.The Soviet Union had sent a series of probes to Venus under the Venera programme between 1961 and 1984 to gather more information about the planet, out of which ten landed successfuly on the surface of the planet and 13 entered the Venusian atmosphere successfully.

However, the landers could only survive for a short period on the surface with the time ranking from 23 minutes to 2 hours due to extreme surface conditions on Venus. One of the longest surving probes on the planet's surface was NASA's Pioneer Venus Multiprobes, which survived for about an hour after impacting the surface in 1978.

What is the name of India's first Venus Mission?

Shukrayaan-1 is the name of India's first Venus Mission. It is expected to be launched in 2024. ISRO was initially aiming to launch the mission in mid-2023 but pandemic-related delays have pushed the launch date to December 2024. 

A backup launch opportunity may be available in mid-2026 when Venus and Earth are next aligned to minimize spacecraft fuel use during the planetary transit. Shukrayaan is scheduled to launch aboard India's GSLV Mk II rocket.

Venus: 8 Things to know about the planet

1. Venus is the second planet from the Sun and is the closest planetary neighbor to the Earth. It is one of the four inner, terrestrial (or rocky) planets

2. Venus is often called as Earth's twin as it is similar in size and density but they are not identical twins as there are radical differences between the two planet worlds.

3. Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system, even though Mercury is closer to the Sun. The planet has extreme surface temperature reaching up to almost 475 degrees Celsius, which is hot enough to melt lead. 

4. The planet is shrouded in thick, yellowish clouds of sulfuric acid that trap heat and has a thick and toxic atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide.

5.It has a rust-coloured solid surface that is covered with dome-like volcanoes, mountains and rifts expansive volcanic plains and vast ridged plateaus. Scientists think it is possible for some of the volcanoes to be still active.

6. Venus has crushing air pressure at its surface, which is 90 times more than that of Earth. This is similar to the pressure one would encounter a mile below the ocean on Earth.

7. Venus rotates on its axis backward, compared to most of the other planets in the solar system. This means that the Sun rises in the west on Venus and sets in the east. 

8. Venus was the first planet to be explored by a spacecraft when NASA’s Mariner 2 successfully flew by and scanned the cloud-covered world on December 14, 1962. 

Upcoming Venus Missions

Planned Missions Space Agency Proposed Launch Year Mission Type
Rocket Lab’s Venus probe Rocket Lab, US 2023 Atmospheric Balloon
Shukrayaan- 1 ISRO, India 2024 Orbiter and Atmospheric Balloon
Veritas NASA, US 2028 Orbiter
Venera-D Roscosmos, Russia 2029 Orbiter and Lander
DAVINCI+ NASA, US 2029-30 Atmospheric Probe
EnVision ESA 2031 Orbiter

Read Also: NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge 2022: Two Indian student groups win from Punjab and Tamil Nadu

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