NEW DELHI: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has several interesting missions lined up for the next five years, even as scientists at its Bengaluru headquarters stay busy studying the data to ascertain what exactly went wrong with the Vikram lander of Chandrayaan-2.
One such future mission will be the second mission to Mars, a first-ever mission to study the Sun, a third mission to the Moon, as well as a first mission to study Venus, other than sending a manned mission to space.
A spokesperson from the ISRO told The Sunday Guardian, “All the future missions that ISRO has planned are in place and developments regarding Chandrayaan-2 will not change or affect anything. Work on all the other missions is going on and as and when the dates are finalised, they will be communicated.”
According to sources, the Aditya L1 mission, which is ISRO’s first planned probe to study the corona of the Sun and its atmosphere, is the most immediate “inter-planetary” mission that is likely to be carried out around the end of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.
The Aditya L1 mission, expected to be launched in a PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) rocket from ISRO’s launch pad in Sriharikota, will study the astrophysical mystery to try to find an answer as to why the outermost layer of the Sun (Corona) has a very high temperature, even higher than the temperature on the Sun’s surface.
According to scientists, the temperature at the Corona of the Sun is around a million degrees Kelvin, while the temperature at the surface of the Sun is expected to be around 6,000 degrees Kelvin.
The Gaganyaan Mission is one of ISRO’s most interesting. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken about this ambitious mission from the ramparts of the Red Fort during his Independence Day speech last month. By this, ISRO plans to send a manned mission to the space. If it’s successful, India will be only the fourth country in the world to achieve this feat.
The Gaganyaan will be an Indian-crewed orbital mission having a spacecraft that will carry at least three astronauts from India. It will have a module based life support system to keep the astronauts alive in space.
The Gaganyan’s crew module and the escape capsule are being jointly designed by ISRO and HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) and are being tested at ISRO’s newly built human spaceflight mission facility centre. The spacecraft’s environment control systems have already been developed and astronauts are already being trained at the facility.
“We have already identified a batch of astronauts who could be the potential flyers in the spacecraft. These astronauts are currently undergoing training at the facility centre and whosoever passes each round will be taken to the next round, while the rest will be eliminated,” the ISRO spokesperson told this correspondent.
The Rs 10,000 crore Gaganyaan Mission is by far the biggest for ISRO till date and is likely to be launched by December 2021 using the GSLV MKIII technology, if all the tests are undergone successfully, according to ISRO sources.
Not only this, India also plans to place a space station in orbit. The space station will weigh around 15 to 20 tonnes. The space station is likely to stay in orbit for 15-20 days and host astronauts to carry out space research.
Dr Surendar Pal, a former ISRO navigation and communication scientist, told The Sunday Guardian that the ISRO has come a long way as far as space science and technology is concerned and “more than 90% of all our missions” have been a success. “The Gaganyaan Mission is by far the most ambitious mission of ISRO. It is for the first time India is planning to put humans in space. This mission is a first of its kind to acclimatise ourselves to handle future manned mission into space and further into colonisation technologies.”
The other inter-planetary mission is the Mangalyaan-2 Mission which is a Mars Orbiter Mission, likely to be launched between 2022 and 2023. Through this mission, ISRO will use the aerobraking technology to go closer to Mars by lowering its initial apoapsis for more suitable observation.
It is to be remembered that ISRO sent a Mars Orbiter Mission in 2013, which has been orbiting Mars since September 2014. India is only the fourth country in the world to reach Mars and the Martian orbit and the first country to do so in its maiden attempt.
However, this time the ISRO is also mulling about sending a rover and a lander to Mars’ surface to study the planet in greater detail, according to sources. However, some also say that ISRO could use more advanced technologies and sophisticated instruments to study Mars from the orbiter.
ISRO also plans to send a study mission to our closest neighbouring planet, the Venus, sometime between 2023 and 2025. Venus, which is often referred to as Shukra in Indian language, is also called the “twin sister” of Earth due to a lot of its similarities with our planet.
The Missionm, which is named “Shukrayaan” will be an orbiter mission, which aims to study the atmosphere of Venus, how it reacts with the solar radiation and the solar wind. Venus is presumed to have dense hot atmosphere primarily made up of carbon dioxide due to its close proximity to the Sun.
However, the satellite configuration on Shukrayaan is yet to be finalised.
MISSION CHANDRAYAAN III
Despite the unsuccessful soft landing of Vikram lander on the lunar surface attempted by ISRO on 7 September, the space research organisation is going forward with its Chandrayaan-3 mission where the organisation is mulling sending an Indian made robot to the Moon.
Scientists in ISRO say that they will learn from the mistakes that must have occurred in the Chandrayaan-2 mission and will rectify these to take forward the third mission to the Moon, possibly in the early months of 2021.
Dr Surendar Pal said, “As scientists are still studying the data, it will be conjecture to ascertain what went wrong at the time of the soft landing by Vikram lander. In the third Moon mission, we will be more careful, we will assess the mistakes. You see, there is always a level of cautiousness with such missions. Having said this, I must say that Indian space science and technology have reached a very advanced stage and we are at such a stage that even many developed countries are taking cues from us.”