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ISRO and NASA sign MoU on Chandrayaan-1

Bangalore, India, 9 May 2006 – G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and Michael Griffin, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) on May 9 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.

The main objective of Chandrayaan-1, scheduled during 2007-2008, 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 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.