India’s Mission Control lost contact with the lander for its Chandrayaan 2 mission today, just as it was about to make a touchdown near the moon’s south pole.
Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram lander descended to a highland plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of 70.9 degrees south. But contact was lost in the final moments of the descent.
During the minutes that followed, worried-looking mission managers huddled with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was at Satish Dhawan Space Center for the landing. Then Kailasavadivoo Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, took the microphone at Mission Control.
“Vikram lander’s descent was as planned, and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 kilometers,” he said. “Subsequently, the communication from the lander to ground station was lost. The data is being analyzed.”