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NASA still searching for India's Chandrayaan-2 Vikram moon lander

The mystery of the moon lander lingers as NASA examines images of the targeted landing site.

The Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander and rover before they went to the moon.


The world was rooting for India's Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander when it aimed for a successful touchdown on the moon on Sept. 6. It didn't quite work out as planned. 

The lander lost communication with mission control just above the lunar surface, and we're still hoping to learn more about its fate.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft flew over Vikram's targeted landing site on Tuesday and snapped a series of images of the area. 

LRO deputy project scientist John Keller shared a NASA statement confirming that the orbiter's camera captured the images. "The LROC team will analyze these new images and compare them to previous images to see if the lander is visible (it may be in shadow or outside the imaged area)," the statement read.

NASA is validating, analyzing and reviewing the images. It was near lunar dusk when the orbiter passed over, meaning large parts of the area were in shadow. 

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There's uncertainty about where exactly Vikram ended up and whether it crashed or may have landed more or less intact. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has not been able to establish communication with the lander, which also had a rover on board.

India had hoped to become just the fourth country to successfully soft-land a spacecraft on the moon. Israel had tried for this achievement back in April, but its Beresheet mission crashed on arrival. NASA's LRO successful snapped an image of that crash site in April.

This isn't the LRO's only shot at spotting Vikram. It will fly over again on Oct. 14 when lighting conditions are expected to be better. NASA said it will make the results of this week's flyover available as soon as possible.