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ISRO announces new moon mission with JPL

New Delhi: In the midst of a controversial satellite deal with a private company, ISRO today announced that it was planning another moon mission jointly with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the US.

The Space Commission, India`s apex space policy body, today gave ISRO the go-ahead to partner with JPL, which has sent missions to Mars and Venus, for the project names `Moon Rise` which could be launched by NASA.

ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has invited proposals under its New Frontiers Programme announced in 2009.

As per the cooperation agreement, ISRO will send a satellite to orbit around the moon to transmit data to earth from rover JPL plans to send to the lunar surface.

As part of the project, JPL plans to drop a robotic lander into a basin at the moon`s south pole to return lunar rocks back to Earth for study.

The mission, if selected, would be launched in 2016.

"We will have to send a Chandrayaan-I like probe that will orbit the moon for about four to five years. The 400-500 kg satellite around the moon could also carry some scientific experiments of ISRO," Radhakrishnan said.

He said the proposal was an outcome of India-US cooperation announced during the visit of President Barack Obama to India last year.

He said India`s contribution to the project could amount to about 150 million dollars.

The mission is part of a joint proposal with JPL which will be put up before NASA.

"We will take forward the proposal and work out a detail plan once NASA selects the proposal," Radhakrishnan said.

NASA has selected three proposals as candidates for the agency`s next space venture to another celestial body in our solar system. The final project selected in mid-2011 may provide a better understanding of Earth`s formation or perhaps the origin of life on our planet.

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