India and France will work together in India's next mission to Mars, planned for 2010, to attempt to put a lander on the Red Planet. French space agency CNES has signed a letter with its Indian counterpart, ISRO, to participate in the Mars orbiter mission, reports said.
Although CNES president Jean-Yves Le Gall did suggest that, after the 2020 mission, the countries could cooperate on a Mars lander, the agreement didn't offer details on CNES' role beyond providing expertise.
"After India's Mars orbiter, the next step has to be a lander. A lander on Mars is not easy, but it will be interesting to undertake," NDTV quoted Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of CNES, as saying.
India and France on Monday pledged cooperation in space technology after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande, who was on a two-day visit as the chief guest for Republic Day celebrations.
Among the 14 agreements that India and France signed was a letter of intent on CNES participating in the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO's next Mars mission, expected around 2020.
Mr Le Gall said France would bring to the partnership its scientific expertise on the planets Mars and Venus.
"India's Mangalyaan is very impressive," he said, noting that "Mangalyaan is a good example of Make in India and of low-cost space exploration."
The Rs450-crore Mangalyan mission was launched on a homegrown PSLV rocket from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on November 5, 2013.
In September 2014, ISRO successfully placed the low-cost Mars spacecraft in orbit around the planet in its very first attempt, breaking into an elite club of three - only the US, Russia and Europe had so far undertaken successful missions to Mars or its orbit.
The Mangalyaan has spent more than 15 months orbiting Mars and is currently located around 200 million km from Earth.
The Mangalyaan is in fine health, says ISRO as it orbits around Mars in a highly elliptical orbit making scientific observations of the atmosphere of the planet.
If India and France jointly succeed in putting an object on the surface of Mars called a landing they would become the second nations to have done it. Till date only the US has succeeded in landing on Mars operational missions.