NASA, India's Space Agency to Collaborate on Mars and Earth-Study Missions
Not even a week after India wowed the world by not only placing an orbiter around Mars on the first try, but doing it one a shoestring budget, the country's space agency has been asked to play with the big boys.
In a meeting Tuesday in Toronto, K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, Charles Bolden, administrator of the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration, signed two documents to initiate between the two agencies a joint satellite mission to observe Earth, as well as open a path for future joint missions to Mars, according to a NASA news release
India's Mars Orbiting Mission, also known as Mangalyaan, or Mars-craft, was successfully inserted into orbit around the Red Planet on Sept. 24, for a cost of about $74-million.
Two days before, NASA inserted into orbit its own latest Mars probe, MAVEN, designed to study, similarly to the Indian craft, the rust-colored world's atmosphere.
"The signing of these two documents reflects the strong commitment NASA and ISRO have to advancing science and improving life on Earth," Bolden said in the release. "This partnership will yield tangible benefits to both our countries and the world."
Signed while the two leaders attended the International Astronautical Congress, a charter between the two space agencies establishes the NASA-ISRO Mars Working Group for exploring enhanced cooperation between the two countries in Mars exploration.
Also signed was an international agreement that details how the two agencies will work together on the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar mission, set for launch in 2020.
The joint Mars Working Group will seek to identify and implement scientific, programmatic and technological goals that NASA and ISRO have in common regarding Mars exploration. The group will meet once a year to plan cooperative activities, including potential NASA-ISRO cooperation on future missions to Mars.
The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar mission, targeted to launch in 2020, will make global measurements of the causes and consequences of a variety of land surface changes on Earth.
"NASA and Indian scientists have a long history of collaboration in space science," said John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for science. "These new agreements between NASA and ISRO in Earth science and Mars exploration will significantly strengthen our ties and the science that we will be able to produce as a result."
NASA and ISRO have been cooperating under the terms of a framework agreement signed in 2008.
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