India loses communication with moon lander

Chandrayaan-2 was 2 kilometers above surface when it went silent

An image of India's Chandrayaan-2 lander with moon behind it
An image of India's Chandrayaan-2 lander broadcast today by India's space agencyINDIAN SPACE RESEARCH ORGANISATION

Mission controllers lost communication with India's Chandrayaan-2 lander this afternoon, shortly before it was expected to settle on the moon's surface.

The descent was going smoothly until the lander was about 2 kilometers above the surface, an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) staffer at the mission control center in Bengaluru said. At that point, "Communication from [the] lander to [the] ground station was lost. The data is being analyzed," the staffer said.

After the apparent mishap, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "India is proud of our scientists! They've given their best and have always made India proud. These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be! Chairman @isro gave updates on Chandrayaan-2. We remain hopeful and will continue working hard on our space programme."

Modi was at mission control as the lander descended.

India was trying to become the fourth nation to place a spacecraft softly on the lunar surface, after the former Soviet Union, the United States, and China.

Click here to learn more about the mission's background and goals.

Come back to ScienceInsider for more coverage of the Chandrayaan-2 mission.

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