India plans to launch a new orbiter to Venus in 2024, a year later than planned, according to media reports. Titled as “Shukrayaan,” the orbiter will be the first mission to Venus by the India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and will study the planet for four years, as reported by SpaceNews.com.

T. Maria Antonita of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) detailed the status of the mission to scientists drafting a 10-year plan for NASA’s planetary science program. Shukrayaan will be India’s first mission to Venus and will study the planet for more than four years.

“ISRO was aiming for a mid-2023 launch when it released its call for instruments in 2018, but Antonita told members of the National Academies’ decadal survey planning committee last week that pandemic-related delays have pushed Shukrayaan’s target launch date to December 2024,” SpaceNews stated.

Once launched, Shukrayaan is expected to take a few months to reach Venus, where it will enter a highly elliptical orbit of 500 by 60,000 kilometres around the planet. Over the following year, it will use aerobraking to lower its orbit to 200 by 600 kilometres. This polar orbit will be the final one used for scientific observations. The mission’s primary objectives are to map Venus’ surface and subsurface while studying the planet’s atmospheric chemistry and interaction with the solar wind.

In September, the French space agency (CNES) announced it would fly an instrument on Shukryaan. The Venus Infrared Atmospheric Gases Linker (VIRAL) is a collaboration with Russian federal space agency Roscosmos. Antonia added that other instruments have been shortlisted and that India plans to fly an instrument from Germany.

Dozens of missions have flown to Venus since the 1960s, but only a few in recent years. For example, the European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbited the planet between 2006 and 2014, and Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft entered orbit in 2015 after a previous unsuccessful attempt. Several spacecraft are also performing flybys of Venus in the near future, including NASA’s Parker Solar Probe for solar observation, and Europe’s BepiColombo en route to Mercury.

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