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Shukrayaan-I: What will ISRO’s Venus Mission be like? 

By Aditi Srivastava,

The Shukrayaan-I mission is a scheduled Venus orbiter that will research the surface and atmosphere of the planet in December 2024.

Shukrayaan-I will be India’s first orbiter mission to Venus. Image: HT Digital

After sending missions to Moon (Chandrayaan- I & II) and Mars (Mangalyaan), ISRO is now preparing to send its first mission to Venus (Shukrayaan-I) in December 2024. This was shared by S. Somanath, chairman, ISRO in a recent event, ‘National Meet on Venusian Science’ held live on its website and Facebook page on 4th May.  Here’s what we know about Shukrayaan-I so far. 

What is India’s Venus Mission, ‘Shukrayaan-I’ about? 
Titled ‘Shukrayaan-I’, the Venus mission is an orbiter (a spacecraft designed to orbit a celestial body without landing on its surface) that will examine the surface of our solar system's hottest planet (Venus).  It will help uncover the mysteries hidden beneath the sulfuric acid clouds that surround the planet and also explore the surface and atmosphere of Venus in relation to the Sun and the Earth.  

The space agency is targeting a launch date in December 2024, with orbital manoeuvres scheduled for the year after that when Earth and Venus will be sufficiently aligned to be placed in the latter’s orbit with least amount of propellant. A next similar window would only be available in 2031 next.  

Which spacecraft will be used for launching ‘Shukrayaan-I’? 
The spaceship, GSLV Mark II, has been manufactured by the UR Rao Satellite Centre, an ISRO unit dedicated to the design, development, and construction of Indian satellites. GSLV Mark II will be launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh with a launch mass of 2,500 kg. 

What experiments has ISRO planned for this mission? 
For this mission, ISRO has already scheduled a few experiments. Here’s a snapshot of them. 

  • Investigation of the surface processes and shallow sub-surface stratigraphy (study of rock layers or strata), 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 

What key instruments will be carried by the spacecraft? 
Several equipments will be carried by the GSLV Mark II spaceship to investigate the Venusian environment. The flagship instrument will be a synthetic aperture radar to study the surface of Venus, which is obscured by thick clouds, making visible observations impossible. The other instrument will be the Venusian Neutrals Analyzer, a Swedish-Indian collaboration that will study how charged particles from the sun interact with Venus's atmosphere. 

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