Bengaluru: Venus beckons Indian space scientists after their successful outing to Mars, and if everything goes according to plan, a home-grown probe should be cruising towards the brightest and hottest planet in the solar system in about two-and-a-half years in yet another shot at understanding the evolution of the world.
And, this mission to Venus could have a French connection as Prof Jacques Blamont, a renowned astrophysicists and a friend of the late Dr Vikram Sarabhai, who was conferred the Padma Shri this year, has offered to help Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with gigantic balloons carrying several instruments but designed to pop in and out of the extremely hot atmosphere of the planet after being unfettered from the orbiter.
“It is possible to build and launch the spacecraft in about two-and-a-half years. Dr Adimurthy (who, incidentally, wrote the first feasibility report on the Mars Orbiter Mission) and a big team at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram) are working out all the details like the ideal launch window, the best orbit for the orbiter and the instruments to go onboard,” Prof U R Rao, former chairman of ISRO, and head of the space agency’s Advisory Committee for Space Sciences told Deccan Chronicle.
Prof Rao said ISRO could bank on its workhorse rocket, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which hurled Chandrayaan-I and MOM into space for its outing to Venus as well, but while the probes to Moon and Mars, were fitted with instruments similar to those used on Indian remote sensing satellites, the spacecraft to Venus would carry synthetic aperture radars to gather data about the surface and core of the planet. “Unlike Mars and Moon which could be colonized sooner or later, Venus interests us only because of relevance
in understanding the formation of planets and evolution of the solar system,” he added.
Sources in ISRO said a two-day workshop was held in Bengaluru recently to discuss technological challenges involved in a mission to Venus. “If scientists come forward with the kind of instruments with which they intend to study Venus, we are ready to build the spacecraft. We have reached the Moon and Mars, so we have the confidence that we can arrive at Venus though it will be a slow-and-steady journey,” sources added.
Prof Rao said Prof Blamont met him when he arrived in New Delhi to receive the Padma Shree award and handed over a voluminous report on how gigantic balloons designed by him could be used by ISRO to study the atmosphere of Venus. “We do not have the expertise to make these balloons which are extremely thin but can withstand extreme temperatures. It is entirely up to ISRO take his help or to go alone to Venus. We are waiting for Dr Adimurthy's team to suggest the ideal date for launch of the spacecraft, and
then everything will move to meet the deadline,” he added.