New Delhi: Gearing up for its mega event of launching a record number of 104 satellites into space in a single space mission on February 15, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) also has its sights set on a visit to Venus and Mars.
With numerous feats in 2016 itself, ISRO managed to establish the country's position as one of the front-runners in the field of space. Now, by acquiring the first acknowledgement by the government with regard to these two new deep space sojourns, the space agency has managed to add another feather to its hat!
With the February 15 mega launch, India is hoping to better the previous world record by a whopping two-and-a-half times. ISRO, considered the new kid on the block in the multi-billion dollar world launcher market, hopes to set an enviable benchmark for the space-fairing nations.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gave the department of space a 23% increase in its budget. Under the space sciences section, the budget mentions provisions “for Mars Orbiter Mission II and Mission to Venus”.
The second mission to Mars is planned for in 2021-2022 timeframe and as per existing plans it may well involve putting a robot on the surface of the Red Planet.
While the first mission to Mars in 2013 was a purely Indian project, the French space agency wants to collaborate in making the Mars rover.
In fact on a visit to India this month, Michael M Watkins, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, said they would be keen to at least put a telematics module so NASA’s rovers and the Indian satellites are able to talk to each other.
The second Indian mission to Mars is likely to be all about good science since the first one had a nationalistic streak on it in trying to beat China to the orbit of Mars which the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) did magnificently.
India’s maiden mission to Venus, the second planet of the solar system, is in all probability going to be a modest orbiter mission.
Watkins said a mission to Venus is very-very worthwhile as so little is understood about that planet and NASA would definitely be willing to partner in India’s maiden voyage to Venus.
Towards that, NASA and ISRO have already initiated talks this month on trying to jointly undertake studies on using electrical propulsion for powering this mission.
Former ISRO chairman says, “India should be part of this global adventure and exploring Venus and Mars is very worthwhile since humans definitely need another habitation beyond Earth.”
(With PTI inputs)