ISRO announces new moon mission with JPL

New Delhi, Feb 12 (PTI) In the midst of a controversialsatellite deal with a private company, ISRO today announcedthat it was planning another moon mission jointly with the JetPropulsion Laboratory of the US.

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

ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said the NationalAeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has invitedproposals under its New Frontiers Programme announced in 2009.

As per the cooperation agreement, ISRO will send asatellite to orbit around the moon to transmit data to earthfrom rover JPL plans to send to the lunar surface.

As part of the project, JPL plans to drop a roboticlander into a basin at the moon''s south pole to return lunarrocks back to Earth for study.

The mission, if selected, would be launched in 2016.

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

He said the proposal was an outcome of India-UScooperation announced during the visit of President BarackObama to India last year.

He said India''s contribution to the project could amountto about 150 million dollars.

The mission is part of a joint proposal with JPL whichwill be put up before NASA.

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

NASA has selected three proposals as candidates for theagency''s next space venture to another celestial body in oursolar system. The final project selected in mid-2011 mayprovide a better understanding of Earth''s formation or perhapsthe origin of life on our planet.

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