ISRO eyes bigger goals beyond Moon, Mars! To conquer Sun, other planets and even asteroids

Huma Siddiqui
ISRO, NASA Mars 2020 rover, NASA Artemis, moons, mars, UAE, SpaceX, Boeing Company, latest news on ISRO, asteroids, Emirates Mars Mission

Globally, 2020 is an exciting year with missions planned to the Moon, Mars and Asteroids. Space bound nations are planning various complex space programmes in an endeavour to outperform each other in select space power verticals. While the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has a calendar full of launches and other programmes, NASA's Mars 2020 rover with a robotic exploration of Mars is scheduled for launch later this year in July, when Earth and Mars are in good positions relative to each other for landing on Mars. The US Space Agency NASA also plans to launch Artemis I, which is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration of the Moon and Mars. European Space Agency is expected to be closely involved with NASA's Artemis and plans to send its own first Mars rover in 2020.

In a first for a Gulf nation, United Arab Emirates (UAE) too plans to become a space dweller in 2020, with its own robot mission (Hope Probe) to the red planet. As has been reported earlier by Financial Express Online, the `Hope Probe' is scheduled to be launched from Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan and likely to reach the Red Planet's orbit in the first quarter of 2021. As reported earlier, during this mission it is expected to gather more than 1,000 GB of data on the planet and this will be used to understand the planet better. UAE's space programme is known as the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), and will according to sources focus on collecting information on Mars.

China is harnessing the dream of becoming the third nation (after US and Russia) to bring back lunar artefacts like lunar rocks, soil samples, etc., back to Earth. Due to threats from both China and North Korea, Japan has been spending a lot to counter cyber and space attacks and considers India as a major and valuable partner. The two sides are working together to develop a capability to counter such threats.

Japan's probe to the asteroid returns along with its cargo containing the quarried asteroid sample and is expected to reach Earth by late 2020. These programmes are very much an indication of coming decades of space exploration, including participation by private agencies like US-based Boeing Company and SpaceX. As far as SpaceX is concerned, the American private company is in the midst of building Starships which have been designed in such a way that they reach Earth orbit after completing a series of successful prototype tests. Reportedly these reusable spacecraft are expected to have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years, and which would have the ability to make round-trip journeys between different planets.