The US space agency NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are in talks for jointly building a satellite for the first time.
"Now, there is a feasibility study going on whether we can jointly make a satellite, with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) payloads working on two frequency bands - L-band and S-band," ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan told PTI in Bangalore on Monday.
Charles F Bolden Jr, administrator at NASA, visited the Space Applications Centre (SAC) of ISRO in Ahmedabad on 25 June. He had a meeting with Radhakrishnan, along with the secretary in the Department of Space and senior ISRO officials to discuss the ongoing cooperative activities between ISRO and NASA and also the potential areas of future cooperation.
"The joint satellite mission is an important step. It's not making an instrument and plugging it actually. It's working together. That's what we are discussing. It (working together) should happen in the next few months," Radhakrishnan said.
"Both organisations are coming together and saying let's develop it together ... use your strength, use my strength. That's a good way of working," he said.
"It (the proposed satellite) is interesting from the scientific point of view; it's interesting from the normal resource management point of view."
Radhakrishnan said NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory would make the radar system "if it (NASA, ISRO deciding to work together on the mission) is getting through".
On ISRO's role, he said, "We will be working together. Some will be built by us, some will be built by them. So, this (work-sharing) has to be finalised."
Radhakrishnan hinted at the possibility of ISRO making the satellite for the joint mission, with launch from Indian soil. In this context, he pointed to the Indo-French joint satellite missions Megha-Tropiques and Saral, with Paris opting for Indian satellites for the ventures with Indian rockets.
ISRO officials noted that India and United States pursue active civil space cooperation mainly in the areas of earth sciences, space exploration, satellite navigation and professional exchange.
Last month's visit by Bolden was his first to an ISRO centre after he took over as NASA Administrator in July 2009. Bolden is only the third NASA chief to visit ISRO in the past four decades.