By Prarthana Mitra
Just months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the country’s first human space flight mission in or before 2022, ISRO, last Tuesday, called for proposals from the scientific community for international payloads and novel experiments that could be carried out during its planned Mission Venus in mid-2023.
Inviting foreign and Indian universities, laboratories and space agencies to participate in the study of the earth’s planetary neighbour, ISRO said in a statement that they were seeking novel research ideas from enthusiasts, calling it an opportunity for collaborative research. This comes a day after a list of potential experiments was released by the nodal space agency for its aforementioned human space flight mission to the lower earth orbit in 2022.
The idea behind the call for submissions
In the case of Mission Venus, the second such interplanetary mission, ISRO aims to enhance the existing knowledge about the planet, especially in light of its similarities to earth when it comes to size, mass, density, composition, and gravity. The broad areas of research that ISRO plans to explore over the course of this mission include surface, subsurface and atmosphere of the planet, and its interaction with solar radiation and solar winds.
Venus is often referred to as the twin sister of Earth, and this mission, with the help of the experiments, will help scientists understand the planet better. “Proposers are expected to be currently involved in planetary exploration studies, the development of science instruments for space, willing to develop space worthy experiments and have access to associated facilities for test and instrument calibration,” the statement from ISRO read.
About the mission
After the success of Mangalyaan, the mission to Mars, India is set to makes its way to Venus and Jupiter. Planning for Mission Venus is in full swing. ISRO will send 12 scientific payloads aboard the satellite for the Venus mission, including a thermal camera, a mass spectrometer, and a cloud monitoring camera.
The proposed spacecraft can support a capacity of about 100 kg and runs on 500 watts of power. Its orbit around Venus will be 500 km away from the planet at its closest, and 60,000 km away at its farthest. The highly elliptical orbit may gradually become more circular, depending on the final configuration of the spacecraft.
“For years, India’s space missions focused on its local and economic usability. If the organisation has to progress and compete with other major space programmes, it will have to look at pure exploratory missions like Chandryaan and Mangalyaan,” Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative at Observer Research Foundation, told The Hindustan Times.
How to apply
Each proposal needs to first assign a principal investigator (PI) and the source of funding. It should further provide all details of the instrument and which of the proposed scientific problems it can solve.
The PI should assemble and lead a qualified team to manufacture and deliver the proposed instrument which should be at par with space standards. For international problems, the statement reportedly and expressly forbids exchange of funds between agencies.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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