Nasa and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have signed agreements to collaborate on an earth-observing satellite and future joint missions to explore Mars.

The agreement paves way for creation of NASA-ISRO Mars Working Group, which will identify and implement scientific, programmatic and technological goals of the two agencies on Mars exploration.

The working group will discuss on various activities, including potential Nasa-ISRO co-operation on future missions to the red planet. It will also explore potential coordinated observations and science analysis between US’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) and India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) missions.

Nasa administrator Charles Bolden said: "The signing of these two documents reflects the strong commitment Nasa and ISRO have to advancing science and improving life on Earth.

"This partnership will yield tangible benefits to both our countries and the world."

"The satellite will evaluate causes and consequences of land surface changes."

Called Nasa-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission, the earth-observing satellite project is scheduled for launch in 2020.

The satellite will incorporate two radar frequencies, L-band and S-band. It will evaluate causes and consequences of land surface changes.

For the mission, Nasa will provide L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR), communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid state recorder, and a payload data subsystem, while ISRO will provide spacecraft bus, a S-band SAR, launch vehicle and associated launch services.

Nasa and ISRO have been working together on various space activities since 2008, including two Nasa payloads on ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 mission.

Image: Nasa and ISRO officials signing documents for the two space missions. Photo: courtesy of Nasa.

Defence Technology