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India’s Venus Orbiter Mission ‘Shukrayaan’ to be carried out in 2031?

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India’s first interplanetary mission, ‘Mangalyaan’ (Mars vehicle), was established in 2013 and became the first-ever mission to reach Martian orbit in the first attempt in 2014. After that, there have been mentions of India’s follow-up Mars mission. In 2022, it was announced in the Indian Parliament that the Venus mission was being conceptualized and that feasibility studies were standing carried out. However, the task will likely be performed only at the start of the following decade. 

At a recent occasion hosted by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, P Sreekumar of the Space Science Programme Office, ISRO, had elaborated that the Venus mission was aimed at studying the Venusian atmosphere, mapping surface topography, using radar to probe the surface, and understanding the Venus-Sun interaction.

On the most intriguing questions about Venus, he stated, “What makes Earth’s twin Venus lose most of its water? Greenhouse effect? The surface composition of Venus is unknown as there are thick clouds at an altitude of 60 kilometres. What causes high-velocity winds at a slow-rotating planet? What is the unknown absorber of UV in the Venus clouds? Is there lightning on Venus?”.

Tracing the work of the Venus mission plan, Sreekumar mentioned that the first meeting where the Venus mission was proposed was conducted back in 2012. On the current status of the mission, he stated “Now, we’re waiting for formal approval and money…otherwise, all set to go…the mission was originally scheduled for launch in 2023 and the opportunity(favourable orbital alignment, proximity conditions) to undertake a Venus mission occurs once in 19 months. Right now, the 2031 window looks good” he said. 

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