More reports on: Space missions

Nasa woos Isro to jointly explore Mars

01 March 2016

Impressed by India's success in its maiden mission to Mars, US space agency Nasa is now wooing Isro to jointly explore Mars and may be to send an Indian astronaut to the Red Planet on a joint mission.

Reports say that at least three different teams from the US space agency have visited India in the last few days, all seeking Isro's participation in the International Space Station, America's forthcoming plans to return to Mars and even put an Indian on Mars.

India's maiden mission to the Red Planet, Mangalyaan, demonstrated Isro's capabilities of undertaking low cost, high value inter-planetary mission.

Nasa is in the process of preparing a plan for the next mission to Mars for the next decade, ie, 2020-2030 and has invited Isro for a meeting in Washington on possible collaborations for the next 5-6 mission to Mars, according to Charles Elachi, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

American astronaut of Indian origin Captain Sunita Williams who was part of the Nasa team visiting Isro, has also been making a fervent plea when talking to stakeholders in New Delhi.

"It is more than just a possibility. We have a pretty extensive plan to go to Mars," she was quoted as saying.

It is also possible that India will be part of a larger consortium of US, Europe, France, Italy among others where everyone can share and capitalise on the capabilities to explore the solar system.

Nasa wants a larger consortium for the Mars mission and feels India, with its accomplishment on the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) can be a full partner in the international endeavour for exploring Mars.

Nasa is also exploring a faster mission to Mars that can be accomplished in three days' time while planning for human expedition to Mars.

Nasa has invited international agencies to start thinking together on how to send humans to Mars and beyond and India can meaningfully contribute to an international cooperation here, says Nasa.

In fact, a sort of collaboration is already in place. Nasa supported Isro in the navigation and communication and American scientists through its MAVEN mission and India through its Mars Orbiter Mission are sharing data.

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