Spaceflight Insider

India announces opportunity for instruments on Venus mission

Venus in UV light as seen by Pioneer

Ultraviolet image of Venus’ clouds as seen by the Pioneer Venus Orbiter on Feb. 26, 1979. Image Credit: NASA

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is seeking experiments to include on a potential mission to explore Venus. A launch date was not provided for the mission, but it seeks to build on past missions launched by other nations that have included satellites, landers, and atmospheric probes.

The announcement indicates the mission would include a 175-kilogram (385-pound) satellite with 500 watts of power operating from an approximately 500 by 60,000 kilometers (310 by 37,200 miles) orbit with the option of lowering the orbit over time.

PSLV-XL (C25) MOM launch from Satish-Dhawan

Archive photo of the PSLV-XL (C25) MOM launch from Satish-Dhawan. Photo Credit: ISRO

The announcement of opportunity (AO) calls on scientists and institutions based in India to develop novel experiments for inclusion on the mission.

The proposed mission seeks to fill knowledge gaps about Venus including its surface and subsurface features and processes, the super-rotation of the Venusian atmosphere, and the evolution of its atmosphere and interaction with the solar wind and solar radiation.

Instrument and experiment proposals in the Venus AO are to be submitted by the end of May 19, 2017, with an announcement of the selected proposals likely by the end of the year or early 2018.

ISRO has been working to advance its planetary science program over the past decade which has included the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter and the recent Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).

Prof. U.R. Rao, former chairman of ISRO and head of the space agency’s Advisory Committee for Space Sciences, has stated that ISRO is likely to use its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle “XL” (PSLV-XL) rocket for the task of launching the probe to Venus, which were used to launch the aforementioned spacecraft.

A mission to Venus would build on the technological legacy of these missions as well as a second planned lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, that includes an orbiter and a lander currently scheduled for launch during the first quarter of 2018.

If ISRO does launch a mission to study Venus and is successful, it would be the fifth national space agency to do so following the United States, Soviet Union, European Space Agency, and Japan.



Paul is currently a graduate student in Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Akransas in Fayetteville. He grew up in the Kansas City area and developed an interest in space at a young age at the start of the twin Mars Exploration Rover missions in 2003. He began his studies in aerospace engineering before switching over to geology at Wichita State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 2013. After working as an environmental geologist for a civil engineering firm, he began his graduate studies in 2016 and is actively working towards a PhD that will focus on the surficial processes of Mars. He also participated in a 2-week simluation at The Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in 2014 and remains involved in analogue mission studies today. Paul has been interested in science outreach and communication over the years which in the past included maintaining a personal blog on space exploration from high school through his undergraduate career and in recent years he has given talks at schools and other organizations over the topics of geology and space. He is excited to bring his experience as a geologist and scientist to the Spaceflight Insider team writing primarily on space science topics.

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