India's rapid progress in lunar exploration has the attention of the president of the United States.
During a speech Monday (Feb. 25) in India, President Donald Trump said the United States plans to cooperate more with India in the realm of space, after the "impressive strides" made under the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Chandrayaan moon exploration program.
"India and the U.S. are ... working together on the future of space exploration," Trump said at a stadium in the city of Ahmedabad; his remarks were livestreamed worldwide. "You are making impressive strides with your exciting Chandrayaan lunar program that is moving along rapidly, far ahead of schedule, and America looks forward to expanding our space cooperation."
India has a data-sharing agreement to provide images from its Chandrayaan-2 mission to NASA for the Artemis program, a multinational initiative (led by the U.S.) to put astronauts on the moon again by 2024, according to the Times of India.
Chandrayaan-2 arrived at the moon in 2019 to begin a multiyear mapping mission to get high-definition photographs of the surface, photographs that could be useful for future landing missions. The country attempted to send a lander named Vikram to the surface, but the little machine was destroyed in a crash-landing .
A predecessor mission, Chandrayaan-1, confirmed ice water on the surface of the moon in 2009; water is considered an important resource for human missions. India plans even more work after this pair of missions, with Chandrayaan-3 already under development for a launch and another landing attempt next year.
The two countries are collaborating on other projects outside of lunar exploration, too. NASA and ISRO plan to launch a new satellite in 2022. The satellite, called NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite, can monitor floods, glacial changes and soil moisture.
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- Japan sets sights on moon with NASA and India
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