The lander module from India‘s moon mission has been located on the lunar surface, a day after it lost contact with the space station, and efforts are under way to try to establish contact with it, the head of the country’s space agency said.
The Press Trust of India news agency cited Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan as saying that the cameras from the moon mission’s orbiter had located the lander on Sunday.
“It must have been a hard landing,” PTI quoted Sivan as saying.
ISRO officials could not be reached for a comment, said The Associated Press news agency.
The space agency said it lost touch with the Vikram lunar lander on Saturday as it made its final approach to the moon’s south pole to deploy a rover to search for signs of water.
A successful landing would have made India just the fourth country to land a vessel on the lunar surface, and only the third to operate a robotic rover there.
The space agency said on Saturday that the lander’s descent was normal until two kilometres from the lunar surface.
— ANI (@ANI) September 7, 2019
The roughly $140m mission, known as Chandrayaan-2, was intended to study permanently shadowed moon craters thought to contain water deposits that were confirmed by a previous Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008.
The latest mission lifted off on July 22 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
After its launch, Chandrayaan-2 spent several weeks making its way towards the moon, ultimately entering the lunar orbit on August 20.
The Vikram lander separated from the mission’s orbiter on September 2 and began a series of braking manoeuvres to lower its orbit and ready itself for landing.
Only three nations – the United States, the former Soviet Union and China – have successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon.