ISRO sets eyes on Venus, plans 7 other interplanetary missions in next 10 years
Starting from Chandrayaan-2 to study the lunar surface of the moon, to unravelling the mystery of Sun’s corona, ISRO has lined up many space missions in the coming years.
By 2024, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is planning to take astronauts to the Moon. And, on the other hand, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is planning to colonise Mars in the next ten years. Similarly, many such space agencies across the world have planned such interplanetary missions – ISRO being one of them.
After the recent launch of its earth observation satellite RISAT-2B, the Indian space agency is more keen to explore the universe. From exploring the Sun to stepping on Venus, YourStory takes a look at the seven interplanetary missions planned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in the coming years.
First stop, Moon: Chandrayaan-2 mission (2019)
The lunar mission that was supposed to be launched between January and February 2019, was postponed to July this year. According to ISRO, Chandrayaan-2 will be launched between July 9 and 16, and is expected to land on the Moon on September 6.
The mission will consist of three modules - a lander named Vikram, an orbiter, and a six-wheeled rover named Pragyan, all developed by ISRO. In an official statement, the agency said,
"The Chandrayaan-2, weighing around 3,290 kg, will orbit around the moon and perform the objectives of remote sensing the moon. The payloads will collect scientific information on lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere, and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice.”
This will be the second mission after Chandrayaan-1, which was launched in 2008. The current mission will be launched using GSLV Mark – III rocket and will land on the moon’s south pole.
Studying the sun: Aditya L1 mission (2019-20)
For the first time, ISRO will launch a probe to study the Sun’s corona and its atmosphere, which is expected to be launched during 2019-20 on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
Corona is the outer layer of the sun and extends thousands of km above the visible disc around it. What makes it interesting is the fact that its temperature is more than a million-degree Kelvin, whereas the sun’s surface temperature is only 6,000 degrees, Kelvin.
This phenomenon is still a mystery in the field of solar physics. According to ISRO, payloads such as the Visible Emission Coronagraph, Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT), and Magnetometer will help it measure the magnitude and the nature of the interplanetary magnetic field.
Mission Gaganyaan 2021-2022
After Mars and Moon, India is all set for its manned space mission, the cost of which is estimated to be Rs 10,000 crore. With this, India will become only the fourth nation in the world to send a human being to space. It is also touted to be one of the biggest space programmes to date.
For the Gaganyaan mission, ISRO has developed the module, life support systems, as well as the spacecraft’s environmental-control systems. It is now being tested at ISRO’s new facility built for human spaceflight testing.
The first unmanned test will be carried out on December 2020, and the second one will take place in July 2021. If these tests are successful, the final mission will commence in December 2021.
Back to Mars, once again: Mangalyaan-2 (2022-2023)
In 2014, ISRO took the world by storm when it launched its Mars Orbiter Mission at a cost of Rs 450 crore. With this, the Indian space agency also became one of the four agencies to successfully land on Mars.
Now, in collaboration with France’s CNES, ISRO is building its second MOM-2 module. Reports suggest the mission is planned between 2022 and 2023. This module will use aerobraking to slow down during the landing and lower its initial apoapsis (centre of the body) and enter an orbit for suitable observations.
Third visit to Moon: Chandrayaan-3 (late 2020s)
In an interview with media, Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan, Chairman, ISRO, said,
“The Moon is a good candidate as a staging point for carrying out our deep space human spaceflight missions, and Chandrayaan-2 will assess the suitability of the Moon for such activities.”
While Chandrayaan-2 is yet to take off, the third mission will be carried out in the coming decade and will look at the possibility to put an Indian robot on the Moon. The back-to-back mission shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Chandrayaan was always meant for the multi-mission space programme.
A visit to Earth’s twin sister, Venus: Shukrayaan Mission 2
Venus is often called Earth’s twin sister, as the two planets are similar in many ways in terms of size, densities, composition, and gravity. Also called the morning star and evening star, the planet is 30 percent closer to the sun than Earth, and has much higher exposure to solar radiation, solar flares, and other solar phenomena, which could help ISRO study the atmosphere.
Mission Shukrayaan aims to study the dense atmosphere of Venus. As per ISRO’s website, the proposed satellite would weigh around 175 kg with 500W of power, but these values will be further tuned based on the final configuration.
Planetary exploration: EXPOsat (the Late 2020s)
ISRO’s Astrosat, a multi-wavelength X-ray astronomy observatory, which was launched in September 2015, is currently studying the origins of X-ray in the universe. On its mission, ISRO’s EXPOSat will explore X-rays in the universe, specifically the polarisation of bright X-ray sources in our universe.
The origin of these lights could be the neutron stars, supernova, remnants, or even regions around the black hole. The study will help the Indian space agency to design the spaceship better to protect it from such radiations in the space in the future.
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