HEAD of State Ratu Epeli Nailatikau was yesterday briefed on the Indian Government's plan to monitor and collect data from Fiji for its first space mission to Mars at the end of this month.
A team of scientists from India's International Space Research Organisation together with India's High Commissioner to Fiji Vinod Kumar presented Ratu Epeli the rocket model and satellite that would be used for the mission.
Mr Kumar said the President requested the team to brief him.
"The mission is an important one because it will be India's first-ever orbit mission to planet Mars.
"This will be Indian's first-ever Mars orbit mission and for that, some monitoring of stages of the launch will be required from the Pacific," Mr Kumar said.
He told Ratu Epeli that two ships were deployed to the Pacific and works were taking place in Suva.
"And once those are complete, the ships will be sailing to these specified destination points for the monitoring of the mission.
"We choose Fiji because its location is ideal, being a communication hub and our close and friendly relations."
Mr Kumar commended the Fijian Government for the support provided towards this mission.
"At the moment, there are 18 scientists who are here.
"We are very thankful to government and the people of Fiji for their support in carrying the required task."
Fiji will be the data collection hub for the $US69million ($F127.3m) Mars Orbiter Mission called Mangalyaan to be launched from India.
Scientists expect the rocket to enter space from somewhere high above Fiji's airspace or somewhere close.
The mission will be monitored from Fiji and other parts of the South Pacific ocean.