Japan’s SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) has successfully landed on the lunar surface. The spacecraft has achieved a remarkable landing, bolstering international efforts to explore the moon amidst recent failures by other space programs.
This milestone makes Japan the fifth country to land on the moon, following the US, the Soviet Union, China, and India.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched SLIM in September 2023. Since then, the craft followed a long, looping path to the moon, orbiting Earth several times to save fuel. It has been orbiting the moon, taking images of the surface and preparing for landing.
The successful landing marked the first use of a technology called “smart eyes”, helping SLIM to precisely target its landing spot on the slope of Shioli crater. The craft autonomously navigated to its destination, with the help of on-board cameras and data from other spacecraft orbiting the moon.
Reports indicate that SLIM’s solar panels are currently not working, requiring the craft to rely on battery power, which has a limited lifespan. The spacecraft operators are working to analyze the situation and get the solar cells up and running to maintain its scientific capabilities.
SLIM also deployed two small rovers, each with their own payload of scientific instruments. These rovers aim to gather important data to aid in the understanding of the moon’s formation and evolution.
The landing spot holds potential importance, as it may contain materials from the moon’s interior that could provide valuable insight into its history. The success of the landing and the data collected will be instrumental in further missions to the moon planned by other countries.
In conclusion, Japan’s SLIM spacecraft successfully reached the moon, marking a significant milestone for the country’s space exploration efforts. However, the spacecraft is currently experiencing technical issues that may impact its ability to carry out its intended mission. While this setback is disappointing, it is a reminder of the complexity and challenges of interplanetary travel. Despite the difficulties, this mission has provided valuable insights and data that will contribute to our understanding of the moon and aid future space exploration endeavors. Japan’s commitment to space exploration remains unwavering, and the lessons learned from this mission will undoubtedly inform and improve future endeavors in the field.