American space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Monday announced the naming of three rocks found on Mars after an ancient Indian seat of learning, a priceless Indian diamond and a south Indian festival.
Nalanda, Kohinoor and Pongal are the three names chosen for certain types of rocks on Mars, NASA officials on a tour to India said in Kolkata.
Appearing on a private television channel, the team said the names had been approved by NASA after much research.
Earlier, NASA planetary geologist Amitabha Ghosh told PTI that the team comprising himself, Dr Michael Wyatt, astrogeologist Dr James Rice and Dr Nicole Schultz would aim to boost space science research in India.
"The idea is to hold talks at scientific organisations to create awareness about space science research," Ghosh, the only Asian on the mission, said.
As members of the Mars Explorer Rover Mission, the four have been witness to the activities of Spirit and Opportunity rovers that landed on the red planet.
"We will be talking about out experiences, our disappointments and moments of glory during the 500 days of the mission through a series of lectures in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore to create awareness about space exploration in this country," he said.
The NASA team has put up a website, tharsisindia.com, (Tharsis is the biggest volcanic region on Mars) to promote its awareness campaign in India.