ISRO Partners with JPL on Proposed MoonRise Lunar Sample Return Mission

ISRO announces new moon mission with US’ Jet Propulsion Lab
DNA

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.

Read the full story.

Editor’s Note: I found this paper about the proposed mission. The mission summary reads:

MoonRise will land in the interior of the SPA Basin at a location determined by analysis of existing orbital data and selected using criteria for science and mission safety. MoonRise will document the geologic context of the landing site with descent imaging and high resolution and multi-spectral surface imaging, and will sieve a volume of soil near the lander to collect thousands of rock fragments. The regolith, well mixed from impact processes, is expected to yield small rock fragments that represent a broad area of the SPA Basin interior. The main lithologic components are impact generated rocks from the basin formation and from the formation of other large impact craters and basins within SPA. Sample materials will be returned to Earth for mineralogical, chemical, and petrologic analyses, and isotopic age determinations in state-of-the-art laboratories. Following a preliminary examination by the MoonRise science team at the Curatorial Facility at Johnson Space Center, MoonRise samples will be made available for allocation to – and study by – the scientific community worldwide.

The Lunar Networks blog also has a detailed overview.

  • Elliot Nixon

    I can think of no greater waste of time/money for JPL than to compete with Google Lunar X prize teams. If we need moon rocks let the free market get them, if that doesn’t work, get them from the Smithsonian.

  • GLXP is actually focused on lunar rovers, not sample returns. At least not in this round. And I’m not sure how many of the competitors are actually aiming at the poles.

  • Elliot Nixon

    Yes I realize this. With several American teams developing capabilities for the xprize that are encompassed within a sample return mission it seems ridiculous for the government not to take advantage of what’s being done by x prize teams, American or not.

  • teri

    How can it be that teachers are getting fired, that taxpayers are being asked to approve propositions to support public education. YET TAXPAYERS ARE PAYING MY CHILDREN COLLEGE TUITION WHILE THEIR FATHER EARNS OVER $250,000 PER YR AT JPL-NASA?