India located the spacecraft lander in its moon mission after losing contact with it, but was unable to establish communication yet, Asian News International (ANI) reported.
The mission’s lunar orbiter took a thermal image of the lander on the moon’s surface, the report said, citing K Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
The development comes a day after the attempt to land a probe on the moon’s southern pole failed. The Chandrayaan-2 craft’s descent was normal until an altitude of 2.1 km (1.3 miles), before communication was lost minutes before the scheduled touchdown, Sivan said in a televised broadcast.
Fifty years after Neil Armstrong’s fabled first steps on the lunar surface, India tried to become just the fourth nation to pull off a soft landing on the moon. Only the former Soviet Union, the US and China have managed that without damaging their vehicles.
Chandrayaan-2, which means “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit, had planned to analyse virgin territory on Earth’s closest neighbor for signs of water and helium-3.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who watched the attempt to land with dozens of school children from around the country, later met top ISRO scientists in the mission control centre in Bengaluru. In a televised speech invoking nationalism, Modi said India’s resolve to conquer space has only gotten stronger after the failure.
The Indian space agency will analyse data on the landing sequence, Sivan said. The lunar orbiter is taking images of the moon and conducting other science experiments.
The mission had suffered an inauspicious start: an initial launch attempt in mid-July was aborted minutes before liftoff because of a technical problem. It then launched July 22 and entered a lunar orbit on Aug. 20.
India and China are locked in a geopolitical space race of sorts as a way to assert regional dominance and establish a presence in space exploration.