Shukrayaan 1: India’s Planned Orbiter Mission to Venus

Shukrayaan 1, which means “Venus Craft,” is a mission being planned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to orbit Venus and study its surface and atmosphere. The project was announced in 2012, and funds were released in 2017 to complete preliminary studies. Instruments for the mission have also been announced, and depending on the final configuration, it is expected to have a science payload capability of approximately 100 kg with 500 W available power. The initial elliptical orbit around Venus is expected to have 500 km at periapsis and 60,000 km at apoapsis.

Shukrayaan
Pic. Credit: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/2524/newly-processed-views-of-venus-from-mariner-10/?category=planets_venus

The primary research areas of interest for the Shukrayaan 1 mission are threefold. Firstly, the mission aims to study the surface and subsurface stratigraphy and re-surfacing processes of Venus. Secondly, it aims to study the atmospheric chemistry, dynamics, and compositional variations. Thirdly, it aims to study the structure, composition, and dynamics of the atmosphere as it interacts with solar irradiance and solar wind.

ISRO has been studying the feasibility of future interplanetary missions to Mars and Venus, the closest planetary neighbors to Earth, based on the success of Chandrayaan and the Mangalyaan missions. In 2017, the Indian government gave the Department of Space a 23% increase in its budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, with provisions “for Mars Orbiter Mission II and Mission to Venus” in the space sciences section. From 2016 to 2017, ISRO collaborated with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to study the Venus atmosphere using signals from the Akatsuki in a radio occultation experiment.

ISRO has made two ‘Announcements of Opportunity’ seeking science payload proposals from Indian academia based on broad mission specifications. In November 2018, it made another ‘Announcement of Opportunity’ inviting payload proposals from the international scientific community. The space agencies of India (ISRO) and France (CNES) were discussing collaborating on this mission to jointly develop autonomous navigation and aerobraking technologies. ISRO is also considering using a balloon probe carrying 10 kg payload to study the Venusian atmosphere at 55 km altitude.

As of December 2019, 16 Indian and 7 international payloads had been shortlisted for the Shukrayaan 1 mission. Some of the proposed instruments from India include Venus L&S-Band SAR, VARTISS (HF radar), VSEAM (Surface Emissivity), and VTC (Thermal Camera), among others. The international payloads include Terahertz devices proposed by NASA, and two Russian payloads proposed by the Russian Space Research Institute and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, among others.

ISRO has not yet sought the Indian government’s full approval for the Shukrayaan 1 mission as of late 2018. However, an update provided to NASA’s Decadal Planetary Science Committee in November 2020, by ISRO scientist T Maria Antonita, stated that the launch is expected to take place in December 2024, with a backup date in 2026. In May 2022, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath confirmed the mission’s planned launch in December 2024, with an alternate launch window in 2031.

In summary, the Shukrayaan 1 mission is a significant endeavor by ISRO to explore Venus and study its surface and atmosphere. The mission’s primary research areas of interest include studying the surface and subsurface stratigraphy, atmospheric chemistry, dynamics, and compositional variations, and the structure, composition, and dynamics of the atmosphere as it interacts with solar irradiance and solar wind. 

Research Areas of Interest of Shukrayaan 

Shukrayaan 1 has three main research areas of interest: studying the surface/subsurface stratigraphy and re-surfacing processes, studying the atmospheric chemistry, dynamics, and compositional variations, and studying the structure, composition, and dynamics of the atmosphere as it interacts with solar irradiance and solar wind.

Status and Collaborations for Shukrayaan

ISRO has been studying the feasibility of future interplanetary missions to Mars and Venus, the closest planetary neighbors to Earth, based on the success of Chandrayaan and the Mangalyaan. The Indian government gave the Department of Space a 23% increase in its budget for 2017–2018, which mentions provisions “for Mars Orbiter Mission II and Mission to Venus” in the space sciences section. From 2016 to 2017, ISRO collaborated with JAXA to study the Venus atmosphere using signals from the Akatsuki in a radio occultation experiment.

ISRO has also made two ‘Announcements of Opportunity’ seeking science payload proposals from Indian academia based on broad mission specifications. In November 2018, it made another ‘Announcement of Opportunity’ inviting payload proposals from the international scientific community. The space agencies of India (ISRO) and France (CNES) were discussing collaborating on this mission to jointly develop autonomous navigation and aerobraking technologies. ISRO is also considering using a balloon probe carrying 10 kg payload to study the Venusian atmosphere at 55 km altitude.

Launch Schedule of Shukrayaan

ISRO has not yet sought the Indian government’s full approval as of late 2018. However, an update provided to NASA’s Decadal Planetary Science Committee in November 2020, by ISRO scientist T Maria Antonita, stated that the launch is expected to take place in December 2024, with a backup date in 2026. In May 2022, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath confirmed the mission’s planned launch in December 2024, with an alternate launch window in 2031.

Science Payload of Shukrayaan

The science payload would have a mass of 100 kg and would consist of instruments from India and other countries. As of December 2019, 16 Indian and 7 international payloads had been shortlisted, with some yet to be selected. Some of the proposed instruments from India include Venus L&S-Band SAR, VARTISS (HF radar), VSEAM (Surface Emissivity), and VTC (Thermal Camera), among others. The international payloads include Terahertz devices proposed by NASA, and two Russian payloads proposed by the Russian Space Research Institute and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, among others.

ISRO Synergises National Efforts To Study Planet Venus

On May 4, 2022, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) held a virtual one-day national meeting on Venus science with the theme ‘Outstanding Scientific Problems on Venus: Need for Space-based Studies’. The event aimed to discuss the scientific possibilities and contexts of Venusian science, and saw active participation from several academic and research institutes, including IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, IIT-Roorkee, IIA Bangalore, IISER Kolkata, IIG Mumbai, CUSAT Kochi, SPPU Pune, Amity University Noida, and more. Additionally, there were four lectures from ISRO/DOS.

The event was inaugurated by Shri Somanath S., Chairman of ISRO/Secretary of DOS, in the presence of Shri Shantanu Bhatawdekar, Scientific Secretary of ISRO, and Dr. Tirtha Pratim Das, Director of Science Programme Office at ISRO Headquarters. During the inaugural address, Shri Somanath S. announced that ISRO has conceptualized an orbiter mission to Venus, with a set of scientific instruments to study the Venus system science. He emphasized the need for synergy between academicians, scientists, and engineers to ensure effective scientific planning for the country’s Venusian endeavor. He stressed bringing out unique scientific results from the proposed Venus mission and urged scientists and academicians of the Nation to invest their intellect and efforts to bring out the best scientific outcome.

Shri Shantanu Bhatawdekar, Scientific Secretary of ISRO, mentioned that this meeting would provide a platform for sustained association between academia/institutes and scientists and engineers of ISRO/DOS.

The national meet comprised three sessions. The first session was dedicated to the scientific context of Venus exploration and mission challenges. The second session focused on the science expected from space-based experiments from the proposed Venus mission, on the facets of the Sun-Venus connection, Venusian atmosphere and ionosphere, and Venusian surface and subsurface. The third session, titled ‘Opportunities for the User Community’ aimed to open up opportunities to establish an association between ISRO/DOS scientists and the scientists/academicians from academic institutes. This session aimed to lay out plans for synergizing the experience, wisdom, and expertise of scientists in the country to build an effective Venus science community to take the flag of future Venus missions forward.

During the third session, scientists from ISRO/DOS discussed scientific experiments envisaged to be performed from the proposed Venus orbiter. They highlighted the domains and specific problems in which contributions from academia/institutes were solicited. Dr. Tirtha Pratim Das concluded the meeting by seeking proposals from scientists from academia and institutes to work jointly with ISRO/DOS towards the Venusian endeavor.

Shukrayaan UPSC

Based on the above information answer the following and give answers in the comment box.

What is Shukrayaan 1?

a. A mission to orbit Mars

b. A mission to orbit Venus and study its surface and atmosphere

c. A mission to orbit Jupiter and study its moons

d. A mission to study Earth’s atmosphere

 

When was the project Shukrayaan 1 announced?

a. 2012

b. 2017

c. 2018

d. 2020

 

What is the expected payload capability of the Shukrayaan 1 mission?

a. 50 kg

b. 100 kg

c. 500 kg

d. 1000 kg

 

What is the initial elliptical orbit around Venus expected to have?

a. 100 km at periapsis and 50,000 km at apoapsis

b. 500 km at periapsis and 60,000 km at apoapsis

c. 1000 km at periapsis and 70,000 km at apoapsis

d. 2000 km at periapsis and 80,000 km at apoapsis

 

What are the primary research areas of interest for the Shukrayaan 1 mission?

a. Studying the surface and subsurface stratigraphy and re-surfacing processes of Venus

b. Studying the atmospheric chemistry, dynamics, and compositional variations

c. Studying the structure, composition, and dynamics of the atmosphere as it interacts with solar irradiance and solar wind

d. All of the above

 

How many Indian and international payloads were shortlisted for the Shukrayaan 1 mission as of December 2019?

a. 12 Indian and 5 international payloads

b. 16 Indian and 7 international payloads

c. 20 Indian and 10 international payloads

d. 25 Indian and 12 international payloads

 

Which space agency collaborated with ISRO to study the Venus atmosphere using signals from the Akatsuki in a radio occultation experiment?

a. NASA

b. European Space Agency (ESA)

c. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

d. Roscosmos

 

What is the ‘Announcement of Opportunity’ made by ISRO?

a. A call for proposals for science payload from Indian academia

b. A call for proposals for science payload from the international scientific community

c. A call for proposals for technology collaboration with France’s CNES

d. All of the above

 

What technology is ISRO considering using to study the Venusian atmosphere at 55 km altitude?

a. Balloon probe carrying 1 kg payload

b. Balloon probe carrying 5 kg payload

c. Balloon probe carrying 10 kg payload

d. Balloon probe carrying 20 kg payload

 

When is the launch of the Shukrayaan 1 mission expected to take place?

a. December 2023

b. December 2024

c. December 2025

d. December 2026

 

Also read Gaganyaan.

FAQ

Q. In which year ISRO will send shukrayaan 1?

A. ISRO scientist T Maria Antonita, stated that the launch is expected to take place in December 2024, with a backup date in 2026. In May 2022, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath confirmed the mission’s planned launch in December 2024, with an alternate launch window in 2031.

Q. What is shukrayaan 1 satellite?

A. Shukrayaan 1, which means “Venus Craft,” is a mission being planned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to orbit Venus and study its surface and atmosphere.

Q. Is shukrayan 1 the name of indias first venus mission?

A. Yes. Shukrayaan 1, which means “Venus Craft,” is a mission being planned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to orbit Venus and study its surface and atmosphere.
Q.How much will shukrayaan 1 cost?
A. The Shukrayaan 1 is likely to cost between ₹500 crore and ₹1,000 crore depending on the level of instrumentation. Source.

Q. Is ISRO going to Venus?

A. Yes. The Mission name is Shukrayaan.

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