Why in News:
- The mission to Venus is likely to cost between ₹500 crore and ₹1,000 crore depending on the level of instrumentation, said, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
India’s mission to Venus
- Shukrayaan-1 is a proposed orbiter to Venus by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to study the surface and atmosphere of Venus using GSLV Mark III.
- The three broad research areas of interest for this mission include a) surface/subsurface features and re-surfacing processes; b) study the atmospheric chemistry, dynamics and compositional variations, and c) study the atmospheric interaction with solar radiation and solar wind.
- Shukrayaan-1 could confirm the presence of active volcanoes on Venus.
- It is a mission to investigate Venus’s surface processes and shallow subsurface stratigraphy, as well as the interaction of solar wind with the Venusian ionosphere and the structure, composition, and dynamics of the atmosphere.
- Earth’s closest planetary cousin and the second planet from the sun, Venus is similar in structure but slightly smaller than Earth and much hotter. Above its forbidding landscape lies a thick, toxic atmosphere consisting primarily of carbon dioxide, with clouds of sulfuric acid droplets.
- The consequence is a runaway greenhouse effect that scorches the surface of Venus at temperatures as high as 471℃. The “air” on Venus is so dense and pressurized that it behaves more like a fluid than a gas near the surface.
- Scientists believe Venus may once have harbored seas of water potentially suitable for life, before unknown forces triggered its extreme greenhouse effect, vaporising its oceans.
- Venus is a ‘Rosetta stone’ for reading the record books of climate change, the evolution of habitability and what happens when a planet loses a long period of surface oceans.
- NASA’s last dedicated mission to Venus, the Magellan spacecraft, reached the planet in 1990. After four years in orbit making the first global map of the Venusian surface and charting its gravity field, Magellan was sent plunging to the surface to gather atmospheric data before ceasing operations.
- Earlier in 2011, the European Space Agency’s mission, Venus Express, found signs of ozone, a biomarker, in the upper atmosphere of Venus.
- In 2020, a team of International Astronomers discovered the presence of phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus. Phosphine acts as a biosignature because it is known to be produced mainly through biological processes, and not through any naturally occurring chemical process.
- Scientists have detected in the harshly acidic clouds of Venus a gas called phosphine that indicates microbes may inhabit Venus.
- Phosphine – a phosphorus atom with three hydrogen atoms attached – is highly toxic to people.
- On Earth, phosphine is produced by bacteria thriving in oxygen-starved environments (anaerobic conditions). The international scientific team first spotted the phosphnie using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and confirmed it using the ALMA radio telescope in Chile.
- NASA announced plans to launch a pair of missions to Venus between 2028 and 2030, to study the atmosphere and geologic features of Venus and better understand why Earth and Venus emerged so differently.
- NASA is awarding about $500 million each to develop the two missions, dubbed DAVINCI+ (short for Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry and Imaging) and VERITAS (an acronym for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography and Spectroscopy).
- DAVINCI+ will measure the composition of the dense, hothouse atmosphere of Venus to further understand how it evolved, while VERITAS will map the planet’s surface from orbit to help determine its geologic history.