Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was preparing for the launch of the Venus mission, Shukrayaan in December 2024 but might face unexpected delays. Venus’s mission was earlier supposed to be launched in mid-2023 but was delayed by the pandemic. The next possible year for the mission would be 2031.
The statement issued by the advisor of the space science program that ISRO is yet to receive formal approval from the Government of India. In the 2022-23 budget, ISRO was allocated 13,700 crores, which only had a very small increase from the previous year. Another important mission of ISRO, Gangayaan, human space flight had received the majority amount from the budget.
Shukrayaan to be India’s first Orbiter mission
Venus is the second planet from the sun. It is the hottest planet in our solar system even though Mercury is closest to the sun. Venus’s thick atmosphere creates a greenhouse effect because of the high concentration of carbon dioxide. It is 38% closer to the sun than the earth. According to sources, it was believed that Venus might have plate tectonics but it was proven wrong by NASA in 1990.
Venus mission, Shukrayaan will be an orbiter mission. It was in 2012 that the idea emerged but it was only five years later that it commenced its preliminary studies after the Department of Space received a 23% hike in Budget 2017-18. The launch window from Earth to Venus is favorable every 19 months.
The Venus mission, Shukrayaan is important because it was once habitable as Earth but due to climatic conditions, it was not sustainable. The study of geological activity is important for Earth which is currently facing severe climatic changes. This mission will give us an insight into how atmospheric conditions can have a massive impact on a planet.
Shukrayaan mission aims at investigating solar wind interaction with the venus ionosphere as well as it will be the first time that it will fly subsurface radar which includes the volcanic spots. The important instrument to be used would be the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) which helps in taking high resolution pictures even when the planet is surrounded by clouds that lower visibility.
In 1962, Venus was first explored by NASA using ‘Mariner 2’ which was successful and provided valuable findings. The Soviet Union was the only one to become a world leader in early venus exploration by sending the spacecraft VENERA. Currently, Japan’s aircraft named Akatsuki is the only one orbiting since 2016.
NASA in 2021 has announced two new missions to Venus to find out how Venus can melt lead at the surface. The two missions namely – VERITAS which will be launched not earlier than 2027 and DAVINCI which will be launched much later.
Venus which is also closer to Earth is popularly known as Earth’s twin as it is similar in size. The mission is important to find out what was the cause of Venus’ atmosphere turning to be so poisonous which is shrouded in sulphuric acid, which is filled in all the clouds surrounding the planet. The study and findings from this mission will serve as a cautionary tale for us. It will also help in modeling the Earth’s climatic conditions and taking preventive steps before it’s too late.