India Spacecraft Located, Condition Unknown After losing contact with the unmanned craft as it was trying to land on the moon, scientists appear to have captured an image of the lander on the surface, and they're trying to establish contact.

India Spacecraft Located, Condition Unknown

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India is doing its best to become the fourth country to land on the moon. But over the weekend, it lost contact with a spacecraft that was supposed to touch down on the lunar surface. But then suddenly, the spacecraft reappeared. NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Mumbai.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: It was an emotional weekend for scientists at India's space agency. Mission Control, in the southern city of Bengaluru, was buzzing as the lander descended toward the moon.


UNIDENTIFIED MISSION CONTROL OFFICER #1: Roughly 4.43 kilometers away from the landing site. So all going well.

FRAYER: But more than a mile above the lunar surface, the signal dropped.


UNIDENTIFIED MISSION CONTROL OFFICER #2: Stand by. Negative. No signal from...

FRAYER: The lander was lost. The mission had failed. Or so everyone thought. Prime Minister Narendra Modi consoled tearful scientists at Mission Control.


PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI: The learnings from today will make us stronger and better.

FRAYER: Then about 36 hours later, the orbiter that had released the lander managed to take a thermal image of it on the moon. It got there, but in what condition, nobody knows.

CHAITANYA GIRI: Yeah. It's quite exciting. It's a nail-biter of a mission, and everybody's hoping and praying that the lander is in good health.

FRAYER: Astrochemist Chaitanya Giri says if scientists can regain contact with the lander and if it's still functional - and those are big ifs - it could theoretically continue its mission. It was supposed to release a rover to take photos and measurements of ice deposits at the lunar South Pole. It's unclear whether any of that will be possible, but for now, Indians are celebrating how their lander was once lost and is now found.

Lauren Frayer, NPR News, Mumbai.

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