U.S. and Russia Will Collaborate on Lunar and Mars Science Missions
October 4, 2007 • 5:36PM

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and Russian Space Agency head Anatoly Perminov signed an agreement in Moscow on October 3 for cooperation in the scientific exploration of the Moon and Mars. While international space cooperation generally begins with relatively low-cost unmanned probes, the U.S. and Russia have inexorably joined their high-profile manned space efforts, but cooperation in unmanned science probes has been low key. Now, both nations' space agencies are facing levels of resources inadequate to carry out the scientific programs each has planned, encouraging closer cooperation.

Russia's Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector will be flown on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, scheduled to launch 12 months from now. Dr. Gordon Chin, project scientist for LRO, said the Russian instrument won an international competition, as the best such device for the mission. It will "allow us to be able to locate, very specifically, potential site where resources such as water might exist," Chin said, and help narrow the choices for manned landing sites in the future.

The Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons instrument will be contributed by Russia for NASA's 2009 Mars Science Laboratory.