Sanctions off; NASA lab asks ISRO to partner for moon mission

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New Delhi, Feb 13 (PTI) With the US lifting sanctions onISRO, a top NASA laboratory has approached the Indian spaceagency with a proposal to collaborate for a moon mission aimedat getting back a kilogram of rocks from the lunar surface.

The iconic Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which has sentmissions to Mars and Venus, wants ISRO to put a satellitearound the moon which will be a link between its lunar landerprobe and the earth.

"The mission is similar to the Chandrayaan-I mission. JPLhas asked ISRO to put a satellite around the moon," ISROChairman K Radhakrishnan said here.

The Space Commission, India''s apex space policy body, hasgiven ISRO the go-ahead to partner with JPL for the projectnamed ''Moon Rise'' which could be launched by the NationalAeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under its NewFrontiers Programme announced in 2009.

As part of the project, JPL plans to drop a robotic landerinto a basin at the moon''s south pole to send lunar rocks backto Earth for study.

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

The 400-500 kg satellite is being planned to have a lifeof up to five years and 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 thesolar system. The final project selected in mid-2011 mayprovide a better understanding of Earth''s formation or perhapsthe origin of life on Earth.

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