NEW DELHI: India and France today decided to step up cooperation in the space sector by exploring ways to use satellites for maritime surveillance and collaborating on inter-planetary missions.
India's Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and French National Space Agency (CNES) would work together on the design and development of joint products and techniques to monitor and protect their assets in land and sea, said a document -- Joint Vision for Space Cooperation -- issued after talks between Prime Minister Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.
ISRO and CNES also inked an agreement for end-to-end solution for detection, identification and monitoring of vessels in the regions of interest.
The agencies of the two countries would cooperate to protect their respective space based assets, including by infrastructure and information-sharing on space events.
India and France will also develop a wider dialogue on space situational awareness.
"ISRO and CNES would work together for the design and development of joint products and techniques, including those involving Automatic Identification System (AIS), to monitor and protect the assets in land and sea," the statement said.
"In particular, both sides will pursue the study of a constellation of satellites for maritime surveillance," it said.
The development comes in the backdrop of the decision by the two countries to step their maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean, a region that has been witnessing growing presence of the Chinese navy.
India and France space cooperation is more than five- decades-old.
Besides nuclear energy and defence, space is another vital area of the strategic partnership between India and France.
India for long has been using the French facility at Kourou to send its heavy satellites into space.
The two countries also agreed to jointly work on inter-planetary missions.
"ISRO and CNES would work together on autonomous navigation of rovers in Moon, Mars and other planets, aero braking technologies for planetary exploration, modelling of Mars and Venus atmosphere and inflatable systems for Venus exploration.
Both sides can embark on complex high technology space science and planetary exploration missions in future," the document said.
India has had two successful inter-planetary missions to the Moon and Mars.
It is working to launch Chandrayaan 2 this year while study is on for sending a mission to Venus.