NASA to support ISRO in India’s Mars mission

MUMBAI (TIP): The US would support India in its much-awaited Rs 450-crore Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) slated for lift off from Sriharikota in October-November 2013. “Nasa is providing the deep space navigation and tracking support to this mission during the non-visible period of the Indian Deep Space Network,” said a US state department announcement.

The decision to cooperate was taken at the fourth meeting of the US-India joint working group on civil space cooperation held in Washington on March 21. But the details of the meeting were made public on Monday through the US-India joint fact sheet. Its release coincided with the Indo-US Strategic dialogue, and the talks between Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan and Nasa administrator Charles Bolden in New Delhi.

Nasa will provide support from its facilities at Goldstone in the US, Madrid in Spain and Canberra in Australia. The teaming up for the Mars mission assumes significance in the context of Bolden calling for strengthened co-operation in this programme, when he addressed Isro staffers nationwide from the Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre.

The American state department document also stated that both countries have “agreed to cooperate in potential future missions to the moon and Mars”. Isro officials have not ruled out a second mission to Mars, which they said will have more scientific content. It is learnt that Nasa was keen on participating with Isro in the analysis of data from the Methane Sensor For Mars, which is one of the five instruments on board the present Indian Mars orbiter. But Isro has not given any firm response so far.

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