Japan’s Moon Lander Wakes Up After Lunar Night

This handout photo released on January 25, 2024 from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and credited to JAXA, Takara Tomy, Sony Group Corporation and Doshisha University shows an image of the lunar surface taken and transmitted by LEV-2 "SORA-Q" the transformable lunar surface robot "SORA-Q" (operation verification model), installed on the private company's lunar module for the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission, after landing on the Moon on January 20. Japan's Moon lander has produced another surprise by waking up after the two-week lunar night, the country's space agency said on February 26, 2024.
Spread the love

Japan’s Moon lander, the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), has surprised scientists by waking up after the two-week lunar night, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The unmanned lander had touched down at a wonky angle, with its solar panels facing the wrong way. However, as the sun’s angle shifted, the lander came back to life for two days and conducted scientific observations of a crater using its high-spec camera.

JAXA had been uncertain whether the lander would reawaken after the lunar night, as it was not designed for the harsh conditions. However, a command was sent to SLIM, and it successfully responded, proving that it had survived the night on the Moon’s surface while maintaining communication functionality. The communication was terminated after a short time due to the high temperature of the equipment, but preparations are being made to resume operations once the instrument temperatures have cooled sufficiently.

SLIM, also known as the “Moon Sniper” for its precision landing technology, achieved a soft landing within its target zone on January 20. This success is a significant milestone for Japan’s space program, especially after a series of recent failures. Japan now joins the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and India as the only nations to achieve a soft landing on the Moon.

During its descent, SLIM encountered engine problems, which caused it to end up on its side. As a result, the solar panels faced west instead of up. Despite this setback, the lander managed to carry out its scientific mission after awakening from the lunar night.

This positive news follows JAXA’s successful launch of its new flagship H3 rocket on February 17. After years of delays and two previous failed attempts, the rocket finally blasted off, marking a significant achievement for Japan’s space program.

Japan is not the only country aiming for lunar exploration. Russia, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates are also pursuing their own missions to reach the Moon. In addition, a private American company, funded by NASA, recently landed an uncrewed spacecraft near the lunar south pole. However, the craft is currently lying sideways, and ground controllers are working to download data and surface photos from it.

Last year, a private Japanese firm, ispace, also attempted to land on the Moon. Unfortunately, the probe experienced a “hard landing,” and contact was lost. These endeavors highlight the global interest and competition in lunar exploration.

As scientists continue to push the boundaries of space exploration, the successful awakening of Japan’s Moon lander after the lunar night demonstrates the resilience and determination of the country’s space program. Despite the challenges faced during the mission, SLIM’s ability to survive and carry out scientific observations is a testament to the technological advancements achieved by JAXA. As preparations are made to resume operations, the international community eagerly awaits further discoveries and advancements in lunar exploration.

Source: The Manila Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *