ISRO’S NEXT FRONTIER: INDIA AIMS FOR VENUS AND MARS MISSIONS WITHIN FIVE YEARS
India’s space exploration ambitions continue to rise as ISRO plans missions to Venus and Mars within five years. Dr. Sankaran discusses challenges, advancements, and the nation’s evolving space capabilities. Read on to know more.
India’s space exploration journey continues to soar to new heights, with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) eyeing missions to Venus and Mars in the next five years, according to Dr. M Sankaran, Director of the UR Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru. Having successfully achieved a soft landing on the Moon and embarked on a mission to study the Sun, ISRO is now gearing up to conquer the new frontiers in space.
Dr. Sankaran, the head of the satellite unit instrumental in placing numerous Indian satellites in orbit, shared insights into the challenges and progress in an interview.
While acknowledging obstacles, such as spacecraft overheating during Mars atmosphere entry and logistical hurdles in launching heavier payloads, Dr. Sankaran affirmed that internal discussions on mission concepts were already underway. He shed light on past concerns stemming from Chandrayaan-2’s unsuccessful Moon landing but emphasised newfound confidence in sensor technology.
Addressing the need for increased payload capacity, Dr. Sankaran disclosed that enhancements to the Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM3) were in progress, expecting a 20-30% capacity boost within the next two years. This development not only paves the way for India’s Mars and Venus missions but also enhances ISRO’s capacity for commercial satellite launches, a crucial revenue source.
Dr. Sankaran expressed optimism, stating, “I think we have now a possibility… with that as a target, we should be able to come up with a plan for a Mars lander mission. We have the outline… now we need to move forward.”
The proposed Mars mission will mark India’s second foray into Martian exploration, following the success of Mangalyaan in 2013. Meanwhile, the mission to Venus, named Shukrayaan, is set to be India’s inaugural venture to the planet.
Providing further assurance, Dr. Sankaran revealed that internal reviews for the Venus mission were already underway. He highlighted the cyclical opportunities for Mars and Venus missions, explaining that launch timing depends on the relative positions of Earth and the Sun.
ISRO’s chief, S Somanath, previously confirmed the configuration of the Venus mission in September, revealing ongoing payload development. Additionally, ISRO plans to conduct studies analysing the space climate, showcasing India’s commitment to advancing scientific exploration beyond our planet.