ISRO plans Venus mission, wants to revisit Red planet

India plans to go to Venus for the first time and revisit the red planet, Mars. A formal acknowledgement of these two bold inter-planetary sojourns by the government is in the electronic budget documents. The news comes ahead of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) attempting its mega launch this week when it will place 104 satellites in space in a single launch by its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). No other country has ever tried to hit a century in a single mission.Russia holds the current record of 37 satellites. The mission, set for February 15, has another significance.It will bring arch-rivals Israel and the Arab world together in single launch for the first time. The 104 satellites include one from Israel and another from Dubai. “The last satellite included was from a private firm in Dubai and is a nano satellite. It is significant that we have brought together Israel and the Arab world. In the 2017 budget, funds for the department of space have been increased by 23%. Under the space sciences section, the Budget mentions provisions for Mars Orbiter Mission II and mission to Venus. The mission to Mars is tentatively slated for 2021-22 and as per existing plans it may well involve putting a robot on the Martian surface. While India’s first Mars mission in 2013 was purely indigenous, the French space agency wants to collaborate in making the Mars rover. India’s maiden mission to Venus is in all probability going to be a modest orbiter mission. Of the 104 satellites to be launched by Isro on Wednesday, the largest chunk of 88 is from the US. The satellites are from a single American organisation, Planet, located in California. The other foreign satellites are from Kazakhstan, the Netherlands and Switzerland. There are only three Indian satellites — Cartosat 2 and two Indian nano satellites. A majority of the satellites are for earth imaging.

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