Japan’s SLIM lunar probe regains power after nine days

Japan’s SLIM lunar probe regains power after nine days
  • PublishedJanuary 30, 2024

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) re-established communication with its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) late on Sunday, nearly nine days after the probe’s touchdown made Japan the fifth country to put a spacecraft on the Moon.

The probe, which lost power because its solar panels were at the wrong angle, was likely able to generate it again because of a change in the sunlight’s direction, JAXA said.

SLIM resumed its operations to analyse the composition of olivine rocks on the lunar surface with its multi-band spectral camera, in search of clues about the origin of the Moon, the agency added.

SLIM touched down on the Moon within 55 metres of its target in a crater near the lunar equator on January 20.JAXA said it proved to be an advancement in what it called vision-based “pinpoint” landing — a technology that could be a powerful tool for future exploration of hilly Moon poles seen as a possible source of fuel, water and oxygen.

SLIM lost the thrust of one of its two main engines shortly before the touchdown for unknown reasons and ended up drifting a few dozen metres away from its target.

The lander safely stopped on a gentle slope but appeared toppled and with an engine facing upward in a picture taken by a baseball-sized wheeled rover it deployed.

The probe’s solar panels faced westward due to the displacement and could not immediately generate power.

JAXA manually unplugged SLIM’s dying battery two hours and 37 minutes after the touchdown as it completed the transmission of the lander’s data to the earth.

JAXA does not have a clear date of when SLIM will end its operation on the Moon, but the agency has previously said the lander is not designed to survive a lunar night.

The next lunar night begins on Thursday.

SOURCE: ABCNEWS

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