Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that India will soon set up a Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) to study gravitational waves.

In his monthly radio programme “Mann ki Baat” (To mind) on Sunday, Prime Minister Modi said that the Indian scientists have been studying gravitational waves for long, but the LIGO would make their job systematic.

It will be the third such laboratory in the world, as the US has Hanford in Washington and Livingston in Louisiana. The Indian premier stressed: “Recently, the Gravitational Waves have been discovered by the scientific community of the world, which is indeed a major achievement. We should be proud of the fact that Indian scientists were also part of it. Keeping this in mind, we have taken a decision to open a LIGO in India.”

Modi explained that LIGO would be a national facility for gravitational-wave research and it would create opportunities for the Indian scientific community to take part in detector development, observation and data analysis.

Meanwhile, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has invited India to explore Mars jointly with the US. In a letter to the Indian government, the agency of the US Federal government responsible for the civilian space programme as well as aeronautics and aerospace research has mentioned that it will also send astronauts to New Delhi to discuss their future plans with their Indian counterparts. The South Asian country has immediately accepted the proposal, as it is interested in exploring the Red Planet jointly with the US.

Earlier, the US praised India’s maiden mission to Mars – “Mangalyaan”, saying that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) opened the eyes of the global community on its capabilities at undertaking low cost, high-value inter-planetary mission.

Charles Elachi, the Director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) – a part of NASA and an institution famous for piloting most of the American planetary exploration efforts with rovers (like Curiosity), has welcomed NASA’s move, saying that India and the US should jointly explore Mars and send astronauts to the Red Planet.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]