The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up for an ambitious mission to Venus, with plans to study the Venusian atmosphere, map surface topography, use radar to probe the surface, and understand the Venus-Sun interaction. The mission, which was first proposed in 2012, is currently awaiting formal approval and funding, but is expected to launch in 2031.
The Venus mission named Shukrayaan is particularly exciting as it will help researchers answer some of the most intriguing questions about Venus, such as what causes the planet to lose most of its water, what causes high-velocity winds on a slow-rotating planet, and what is the unknown absorber of UV in the Venus clouds.
The 2031 launch window for the mission is particularly opportune, as it coincides with NASA and European Space Agency’s plans to land their own missions on Venus. NASA’s proposed missions, called Davinci+ and Veritas, will study the planet’s geology and atmosphere, while the European mission, known as EnVision, aims to study the planet’s geology and tectonics.
Despite the challenges involved in the Venus mission, ISRO is determined to push ahead with the project, with a view to making significant strides in understanding the secrets of Earth’s twin. The agency has a busy schedule in 2023 with big-ticket missions such as Chandrayaan-3 (3rd Lunar mission), Aditya-L1(mission to study sun), a host of commercial launches, launches of the new SSLV rocket and major test launches as part of the Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight program.