ISRO announces new moon mission with JPL

ISRO announces new moon mission with JPL

The Space Commission, India's apex space policy body, today gave ISRO the go-ahead to partner with JPL, which has sent missions to Mars and Venus, for the project names 'Moon Rise' which could be launched by NASA.

ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has invited proposals under its New Frontiers Programme announced in 2009. As per the cooperation agreement, ISRO will send a satellite to orbit around the moon to transmit data to earth from rover JPL plans to send to the lunar surface.

As part of the project, JPL plans to drop a robotic lander into a basin at the moon's south pole to return lunar rocks back to Earth for study. The mission, if selected, would be launched in 2016.

"We will have to send a Chandrayaan-I like probe that will orbit the moon for about four to five years. The 400-500 kg satellite around the moon could also carry some scientific experiments of ISRO," Radhakrishnan said.

He said the proposal was an outcome of India-US cooperation announced during the visit of President Barack Obama to India last year. He said India's contribution to the project could amount to about 150 million dollars. The mission is part of a joint proposal with JPL which will be put up before NASA.

"We will take forward the proposal and work out a detail plan once NASA selects the proposal," Radhakrishnan said.

NASA has selected three proposals as candidates for the agency's next space venture to another celestial body in our solar system. The final project selected in mid-2011 may provide a better understanding of Earth's formation or perhaps the origin of life on our planet.