ISRO has had a busy year in space with 16 space missions launched this year. From communication satellites to focused missions like the HySIS launched through PSLV-C43, it has successfully completed 14 groundbreaking space missions. This number is set grow with ISRO planning to carry out a record 22 missions in 2019.
In this article, we list down the top space research missions ISRO plans for the next year and and its impact on space physics, in order of occurrence.
After a decade of India’s attempt in orbiting our own satellite with Chandrayaan-1, it is now set to launch its highly anticipated second mission to the moon with Chandrayaan 2. This mission is set to study the moon’s environmental conditions, minerals and exosphere. The payloads will collect scientific information on lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice. Also known as GSLV-F10, the mission holds a special place because it is the first time that India is going to land a rover on the moon and at the south pole of the moon which is an unexplored region of the moon. The rover is six-wheeled which will move around the landing site in semi-autonomous mode. The Chandrayaan-2 will orbit around the moon and perform the objectives of remote sensing the moon. The mission is set to launch on 31st January.
This space mission is dedicated to the Sun. The name L1 denotes the Lagrange 1 position of the Sun-Earth system, which lies at a direct line between the Sun and the earth and is 1.5 kilometers from the Earth. So far, only two space agencies— NASA and ESA have been successfully be able to place their satellites at this position. This point was chosen because at this point, the Sun can be viewed without any blockage or occultation. The objective of this mission is to understand the dynamical process of the Sun, and to carry out coronal and near UV observations. The mission also has a contribution from esteemed institutes like Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Inter University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) and Physical Research laboratory (PRL). It is going to be launched by PSLV-XL and the date of launch is slated to be 2019-20.
Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is dubbed the ‘baby rocket’ and is ISRO’s first of baby rockets which will be used to launch smaller satellites weighing between 500 to 700 kilograms. Made with just one tenth of the PSLV cost and having a length of about only 34 metres, it is the most commercially viable baby rocket. This mission is expected to launch in the first half of 2019.
ISRO has been doing a great job in the sphere of communication satellites. It launched three satellites for communication this year. With the recent launch of GSAT 31, it will be excited to see what breakthroughs the launch of GSAT can add to us in terms of enhanced communication. It is going to launch GSAT 30 from its rocket port at Kourou in French Guiana. The launch is slated for May next year.
Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH), a 5-year project with an objective of understanding the cosmic transient events such as supernovae, white dwarf detonations, merging neutron stars, fast moving near-earth asteroids and gamma-ray bursts among others. Led by Caltech, this project has many international collaborations, including IIA, Bengaluru. The telescope has a sensitive camera capable of detecting even the faintest transients found by partner survey telescopes such as the Zwicky Transient Facility at Palomar, California. It is also programmed to directly communicate with different ground-based and space-based surveys searching for transient sources. With its first astronomical observation of a nova burst this year, it is promising to bring more such interesting observations.
In the next three years, ISRO plans to complete 50 successful missions. According to K Sivan, chairman of ISRO who announced in August this year, “We have identified 50 satellites that will be launched over the coming three years”. With the culmination of the centenary celebrations of its founder and father of Indian Space Programmes, the legendary Dr. Vikram Sarabhai will surely receive a serious tribute on his 100th birth anniversary.