Japan’s Slim Moon Lander Powers Up for Continued Lunar Exploration

Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (Slim) spacecraft has successfully resumed its operations after being temporarily shut down for a week due to a power supply issue, announced the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa).

The agency confirmed on Sunday that communication with the lander had been re-established, signaling the resolution of the glitch.

Jaxa explained that the solar cells on Slim are now operational again, benefiting from a change in lighting conditions that enabled the spacecraft to capture sunlight. 

Initially, the solar cells were unable to generate power upon landing on January 20 as they were oriented away from the Sun.

Slim’s successful soft touchdown on the Moon makes Japan the fifth country in the world to achieve such a feat, following the United States, the former Soviet Union, China, and India.

The spacecraft operated on battery power for several hours before authorities decided to temporarily power it down, anticipating a potential recovery of electricity when sunlight angles changed.

Jaxa shared an image taken by Slim of a nearby rock, humorously nicknamed a “toy poodle,” on its social media platform, X (formerly Twitter). 

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Slim Lander’s Historic Mission

japan-slim-moon-lander-powers-continued-lunar-exploration
Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (Slim) spacecraft has successfully resumed its operations after being temporarily shut down for a week due to a power supply issue, announced the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa).

The lander’s primary mission involves analyzing the composition of Moon rocks to unravel clues about the moon’s origin.

Slim’s precision landing at the edge of the Shioli equatorial crater, within 55m (180 ft) of its targeted location, is hailed as an “unprecedented pinpoint landing” by Jaxa. 

This landing technology opens avenues for future exploration of hilly Moon poles, deemed potential sources of fuel, water, and oxygen.

While Jaxa did not specify the duration of Slim’s Moon operations, it previously noted that the lander was not designed to survive a lunar night, which lasts about 14 days when the Moon’s surface is not exposed to the Sun.

Landing on the Moon statistically remains challenging, with only about half of all attempts proving successful. Japan’s recent achievement follows India’s Chandrayaan-3 rover landing near the lunar south pole in August 2023. 

However, lunar exploration has seen setbacks, including a US spacecraft ending its mission in flames and Russia’s lunar spacecraft crashing into the Moon after losing control.

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