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The Hindu
The Hindu
Special Correspondent

Venus mission: ISRO plans to make it a special one

The mission to Venus is likely to cost between ₹500 crore and ₹1,000 crore depending on the level of instrumentation, said S. Somanath, chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), on Friday.

Although 2024 has been doing the rounds as the likely year for the ISRO’s Venus mission, the space agency can announce a schedule only after the Government of India gives the go-ahead for the mission, said Mr. Somanath. He was speaking on the sidelines of the national conference on Aerospace Quality and Reliability organised jointly by the Society for Aerospace Quality and Reliability, Thiruvananthapuram, and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).

The Venus mission is back in the news with the ISRO organising a one-day online meeting on Venus science, with the theme ‘Outstanding Scientific Problems on Venus: Need for Space-based Studies,’ on May 4.

The space agency is particular that the mission, when it takes place, produces path-breaking scientific knowledge, said Mr. Somanath. ‘‘It is very important that we come out with ‘Nobel-class’ findings in our missions. This is our goal,’‘ said Mr. Somanath, adding that the Venus endeavour should have a unique identity among all the missions to the planet that are likely to take place in the future.

He pointed out how, despite the Chandrayaan-I mission being instrumental in the discovery of water on the moon, U.S. scientists were the first to announce the findings. It could have been an Indian finding, he said.

Different challenges

Venus offers different challenges compared to Mars, given the thick atmosphere and surface activity, which make it a complex planet. ''Reaching Venus is not a big issue. We have gone to Mars, we know how to go to Venus. But if you need a deeper understanding, you need to have instruments that go deep through the atmosphere. That is a challenge,'' he said.

Mr. Somanath said the ISRO was not in a hurry to launch the Chandrayaan-3 mission. Tests are in progress, but the ISRO has not fixed a schedule. ''We want to make sure that all of us are happy with what we have done. Handling failure is a difficult thing. These missions are very costly and technology-intensive. Nothing can be left to chance,'' he said.

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