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Photo: NASA/Goddard/LRO

The chairman of India's space agency said Sunday that the country's lunar lander has been detected by a thermal image on the moon's surface, but that the agency is still trying to establish contact, Asian News International reports.

Driving the news: India's attempt to land a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon for the first time on Friday appeared to have failed, with "communication from the lander to the ground stations" lost, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation's Mission Control Centre.

Why it matters: If the Vikram lander did touch down and mission control can establish communication, it would make the nation only the 4th — after the former Soviet Union, the U.S. and China — to successfully operate a mission on the lunar surface.

K. Sivan, the director of the Indian Space Research Organisation, told Asian News International it's uncertain what condition the spacecraft is in and that it's "premature to say anything."

Details: It's not yet clear why the lander lost contact with Mission Control just before it was expected to land.

  • Vikram separated from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter around the Moon on Sept. 2 and slowly started to descend, losing speed and preparing for landing in the Moon's south polar region.
  • Vikram and the small Pragyaan rover it carried were expected to investigate the water-ice environment on that part of the Moon.
  • Scientists have long thought that the Moon's poles likely contain a fair amount of ice, which researchers think might be able to be converted into fuel for farther afield missions one day.

The big picture: India has been working to cement itself as a space superpower.

  • Earlier this year, the nation launched a test of an anti-satellite system that created hundreds of pieces of space debris in low-Earth orbit and drew criticism from the international community. China, Russia and the U.S. have also successfully tested their own anti-satellite systems.
  • India inserted a spacecraft in orbit around Mars in 2014, where it's still gathering data today.

Context: If communication with the lander is not established, this will be the second lunar landing failure this year. The main engine of Israel's Beresheet lander malfunctioned just ahead of its own expected touchdown on the Moon in April.

Go deeper ... Factory Moon: Axios' special report on Earth's nearest neighbor

Go deeper

Fed revamps rules for officials, restricts trades after controversies

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve on Thursday announced significant changes to its rules regulating officials' financial activities following controversy last month over some officials' past trading practices.

Why it matters: The rule revamp is a coda on the biggest scandal to hit the Fed in recent memory.

Texas urges Supreme Court to leave abortion ban in place

Photo: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to keep in place a law that bans abortions after an embryo's cardiac activity is detected, which can be as soon as six weeks and before many people know they are pregnant.

Driving the news: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the high court to ignore the Justice Department's emergency request that they temporarily block the law while federal courts consider its constitutionality since it "lacks standing because it has not been injured by SB 8."

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Meme stonks lose their appeal to the world of crypto

Data: Cardify; Chart: Axios Visuals

That sucking sound you hear is the outflow of meme-chasing dollars from the stock market.

Why it matters: The caravan has moved on. The dream of getting rich quick still lives, but today it's more often found in the world of crypto, NFTs or even sports betting than it is in the stock market.