India, US mull cooperation in moon, Mars missions
By Arun Kumar, Washington, March 23 : India and the US have agreed to expand their cooperation in civil space activities ranging from weather and monsoon forecasting to cooperative space exploration work, including future missions to the moon and Mars.
The agreement between the two countries' space agencies, Indian Space Research Organisation and National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) was announced Friday after a meeting of the US-India Civil Space Joint Working Group (CSJWG).
"Building on NASA's collaboration in India's highly successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission in 2008, NASA and ISRO agreed to explore further cooperative space exploration work, including future missions to the moon and Mars," a joint statement issued after the meeting said.
"To this end the CSJWG agreed to continue discussions in planetary science and Heliophysics to identify areas of potential cooperation," it said.
Continued progress is also being made in promoting compatibility and interoperability between the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), the statement said.
Further work in this area will take place bilaterally and in multilateral bodies such as the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems, it said.
The two sides exchanged information on a range of space and other policy issues and noted ongoing efforts to open up new opportunities for collaboration.
Both sides confirmed the significant programmatic interest in, and scientific merit of, moving forward with the proposed NASA-ISRO cooperation in the L & S-Band SAR mission, or remote sensing techniques, the statement said.
At the opening of the meeting NASA Administrator Charles Bolden highlighted the impressive growth of US-India cooperation on a range of cutting edge projects from deep space exploration to the use of Earth observing satellites to promote sustainable development.
CSJWG is a vital pillar in the US-India partnership, Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao said suggesting that both sides should continue to search for new areas of cooperation noting that "there is no final frontier in this relationship".
This dialogue architecture should pave way for enhanced space applications for societal benefits, she said.
Endorsing expanded work in a number of areas, the working group noted that existing cooperation, in the use of US and Indian earth observation satellite data, has produced information yielding a broad range of societal benefits.
These include improved weather and monsoon forecasting, disaster management and response, improved agricultural and natural resource use and better understanding of climate change.
Through expanded cooperation between their technical agencies that operate earth observing satellites, the two sides agreed on a number of measures that will improve the use of this data to promote sustainable development.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)