With India looking to make space voyage to Venus a reality, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has started inviting proposals for space-based experiments from scientists across the country, news agency PTI reported.
According to PTI, the Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is for space experiments by institutions in the country, and the last date for receiving the proposals is May 19, 2017, ISRO said.
In an announcement on its website, ISRO said those sending the proposals may be currently involved in planetary exploration studies, or development of science instruments for space, or willing to develop the experiments.
ISRO has not set up any time frame for the mission, but it is believed that India’s Venusian orbiter mission may not happen before 2020.
The maiden mission to Venus, the second planet of the Solar System, is in all probability going to be a modest orbiter mission, PTI reported.
Earlier, ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar had said that studies for the mission to Venus were on the way and that it is on the horizon.
“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,” Kiran Kumar was quoted as saying by PTI.
Due to similarities in size, mass, density, bulk composition and gravity, Venus is often described as the “twin sister” of the Earth. It is also believed that both planets share a common origin, forming at the same time out of a condensing nebulosity around 4.5 billion years ago.
The planet is around 30 per cent closer to the sun as compared to Earth resulting in much higher solar flux.
ISRO said the planet has been explored by flyby, orbiter, a few lander missions and atmospheric probes with explorations beginning in the 1960s.
ISRO said 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, all of which make the mission even more important.
ISRO also said that the payload capability of the proposed satellite is likely to be 175 kg with 500W of power. The proposed orbit is expected to be around 500 x 60,000 km around Venus, and the orbit is likely to be reduced gradually over several months.
A mission to explore Venus was first mentioned in the Department of Space demands for grants 2017–18.
ISRO is expected to launch its second lunar mission Chandrayaan 2 during the first quarter of 2018.
Michael M Watkins, Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, had on a visit to India in February, said that since so little is understood about Venus that a mission to the planet is very-very worthwhile. He also added that NASA would definitely be willing to partner in India’s maiden voyage to the planet. It is reported that NASA and ISRO had already initiated talks in February on trying to jointly undertake studies on using electrical propulsion for powering this mission.
“India should be part of this global adventure and exploring Venus and Mars is very worthwhile since humans definitely need another habitation beyond Earth,” PTI quoted K Kasturirangan, former chairman of ISRO, as saying.