Washington: NASA and ISRO have agreed to cooperate on future explorations of Mars, which America believes will yield "tangible benefits" to both the countries and the world at large.
While attending the International Astronautical Congress in Toronto, the two space agency leaders, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), met to discuss and sign a charter that establishes a NASA-ISRO Mars Working Group to investigate enhanced cooperation between the two countries in Mars exploration.
They signed two documents to launch a NASA-ISRO satellite mission to observe Earth and establish a pathway for future joint missions to explore Mars and also signed an international agreement that defines how the two agencies will work together on the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission, targeted to launch in 2020.
The joint NISAR Earth-observing mission will make global measurements of the causes and consequences of land surface changes, while the potential areas of research include ecosystem disturbances, ice sheet collapse and natural hazards.
NISAR will be the first satellite mission to use two different radar frequencies (L-band and S-band) to measure changes in our planet's surface less than a centimeter across. This allows the mission to observe a wide range of changes, from the flow rates of glaciers and ice sheets to the dynamics of earthquakes and volcanoes.
NASA will provide the mission's L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR), a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid state recorder, and a payload data subsystem. ISRO will provide the spacecraft bus, an S-band SAR, and the launch vehicle and associated launch services.
NASA and ISRO have been cooperating under the terms of a framework agreement signed in 2008. This cooperation includes a variety of activities in space sciences such as two NASA payloads-the Mini-Synthetic Aperture Radar (Mini-SAR) and the Moon Mineralogy Mapper-on ISRO's Chandrayaan-1 mission to the moon in 2008.
Both agencies have newly arrived spacecraft in Mars orbit, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) and ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).