Image: Mr G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO (centre) and Dr Michael Griffin, Administrator, NASA (right), signing MOU on Chandrayaan-1 at ISRO Satellite Centre.
Mr G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO, and Dr Michael Griffin, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of USA today (May 9, 2006) signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) at ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), Bangalore, on inclusion of two US Scientific instruments on board India's first mission to Moon, Chandrayaan-1. These instruments are - Mini Synthetic Aperture Radar (Mini SAR) developed by Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University and funded by NASA and Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), jointly built by Brown University and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA.
Chandrayaan-1, scheduled during 2007-2008, is India's first unmanned scientific mission to moon. The main objective is the investigation of the distribution of various minerals and chemical elements and high-resolution three-dimensional mapping of the entire lunar surface. ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV, will launch Chandrayaan-1 into a 240 km X 24,000 km earth orbit. Subsequently, the spacecraft's own propulsion system would be used to place it in a 100 km polar orbit around the moon.
The Indian payloads on board Chandrayaan-1 include: a Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC), a Hyper Spectral Imager (HySI), a High-Energy X-ray spectrometer (HEX), a Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument (LLRI) and a Moon Impact Probe (MIP).
The two US instruments, Mini SAR and M3, were selected on the basis of merit out of 16 firm proposals from all over the world received in response to ISRO's announcement of opportunity. The main objective of Mini SAR is to detect water in the permanently shadowed areas of lunar polar regions. The objective of M3 is the characterisation and mapping of minerals on the lunar surface.
Earlier, three instruments - Chandrayaan-1 Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer (CIXS) from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, developed with contribution from ISRO Satellite Centre; Near Infra-Red Spectrometer (SIR-2) from Max Planck Institute, Germany; and Sub keV Atom Reflecting Analyser (SARA) from Swedish Institute of Space Physics developed in collaboration with ISRO's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre -- were selected from the European Space Agency besides a RAdiation DOse Monitor (RADOM) from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
The inclusion of US instruments on Chandrayaan-1 has added fillip to the Indo-US cooperation in the space arena which dates back to the very beginning of the Indian space programme. More recently, the India-US Conference on Space Science, Applications and Commerce held at Bangalore during in June 2004 led to the setting up of a Joint Working Group to enhance the cooperation in civil space between India and USA. The Joint Working Group, comprising representatives of government, academic institutions and industries, had its first meeting in Bangalore in June 2005.
During the signing of MOU today, senior NASA and US Embassy officials and senior officials from ISRO and Ministry of External Affairs were present. Dr Griffin also visited the laboratories at ISAC and interacted with senior scientists. He would also be visiting Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Thiruvananthapuram and Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR at Sriharikota.