A top French astrophysicist will be working with ISRO team Venus beckons India’s space scientists after their successful outing to Mars, and if everything goes according to plan, a home-grown probe should be cruising towards the brightest and hottest planet in the solar system in about two-and-a-half years, in yet another shot at understanding the evolution of the world. This mission to Venus could have a French connection as Prof. Mr. Jacques Blamont, a renowned astrophysicist and a friend of the late Dr Vikram Sarabhai, who was awarded the Padma Shri this year, has offered to help the Indian Space Research Organisation with gigantic balloons carrying several instruments but designed to pop in and out of the extremely hot atmosphere of the planet after being unfettered from the orbiter. “It is possible to build and launch the spacecraft in about two-and-a-half years. Dr Adimurthy (who, incidentally, wrote the first feasibility report on the Mars Orbiter Mission) and a big team at VSSC (Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram) are working out all the details like the ideal launch window, the best orbit for the orbiter and the instruments to go on board,” Prof Mr. U.R. Rao, former chairman of ISRO and head of the space agency’s Advisory Committee for Space Sciences, told this newspaper. He said ISRO could bank on its workhorse rocket, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which hurled Chandrayaan-I and MOM into space for its outing to Venus as well.