More reports on: Space missions

Isro invites proposals for experiments to study Venus ahead of orbital mission

02 May 2017

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), which is planning a mission to Venus, has invited proposals from interested scientists within India for novel space based experiments to study the planet more closely.

Isro has set no time-frame for the ambitious mission, but indications are that the Indian orbiter mission to Venus may take another two or three years. The maiden mission to Venus, the second planetary mission after the Manglayan mission to Mars, could also be a modest orbiter mission.

Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar had earlier said that the mission to Venus is on the horizon and studies are underway.

"Beyond that, Mars second mission and Venus mission are all on the horizon, we have to go through the various studies and then formulate, get the approval and move. Right now, they are all in the study phase," he said while referring to the two new bold inter-planetary sojourns to Earth's immediate neighbours.

In its announcement, Isro said the opportunity to study Venus is open to all institutions in India.

While the solar system studies have seen a remarkable growth in the last few decades, due to advances in space technology, observational capabilities and computational technologies, Isro noted that there are still areas where we need greater understanding.

It is still interesting to find clues as to how the planetary systems might have originated and evolved, and how they are different and similar to each other.

Venus is often described as the "twin sister" of the Earth because of the similarities in size, mass, density, bulk composition and gravity. It is believed that both planets share a common origin, forming at the same time out of a condensing nebulosity around 4.5 billion years ago.

Venus is around 30 per cent closer to the sun compared to Earth, resulting in much higher solar flux.

Since 1960s, Venus has been explored by flyby, orbiter, a few lander missions and atmospheric probes. In spite of great progress made in exploring Venus, there still exist gaps in our basic understanding about surface/sub-surface features and processes, super rotation of Venusian atmosphere and its evolution and interaction with solar radiation/solar wind.

Isro said that the proposals should be from interested scientists who are currently involved in planetary exploration studies, the development of science instruments for space or those willing to develop the experiments.

The principal Investigator of the proposal should provide necessary details of the instrument which can address the scientific problems and be capable of bringing together the instrument team and lead the team for developing a space qualified instrument.

The payload capability of the proposed satellite is likely to be 175 kg with 500W of power. However, these values are to be tuned based on the final configuration. The proposed orbit is expected to be around 500 x 60,000 km around Venus.  This orbit is likely to be reduced gradually, over several months to a lower apoapsis.

The last date for receiving the proposal is 19 May 2017. Isro has detailed the format for submitting proposals, details of which are available on its website.

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