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Japan's Successful Moon Landing Keeps Them on Top of Their Space Tech Game

SLIM project is JAXA's second lunar landing attempt.
Japan's Successful Moon Landing Keeps Them on Top of Their Space Tech Game

Japan is in for the long haul in the space technology field, as they're making their name known to the world with the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) project.

The SLIM craft, also known as the 'Moon Sniper', has successfully touched down on the moon on Saturday, January 20, 2024.

Japan is now the fifth nation to pull off a fiendishly tricky soft lunar landing after the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and India.

This success has restored Japan's reputation in space after two failed lunar missions and recent rocket failures, including explosions after take-off.

Unfortunately, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced that they had to turn off the moon lander due to power issues.

After the touchdown at 20 minutes past midnight on Saturday, JAXA could not confirm that the lightweight craft's solar batteries were generating power.

Before turning off the lander, the technical and image data acquired during the landing descent and on the lunar surface were successfully transmitted back to the base.

Picture of the SLIM spacecraft. IMAGE: GermanyInJapan/ X.

Get to know SLIM.

If you've never read or heard of this amazing space tech by the Japanese, here's a quick overview of it.

Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon (SLIM) refers to the spacecraft’s new precision-landing technology. SLIM is JAXA's second lunar landing attempt after losing contact with the OMOTENASHI lander shortly after its launch back in 2022.

This technology can assist future landings by allowing spacecraft to land in relatively small areas amid rocky or uneven terrain, rather than having to find large clearings.

SLIM is designed to land within 100 meters (roughly 328 feet) of its target, versus the conventional accuracy of several kilometers for lunar landers.

The lander is attached with two small rovers, each of which will demonstrate a new technology for moving on the Moon.

Lunar Excursion Vehicle 1 includes a camera and scientific equipment, and it uses a hopping mechanism to maneuver on the Moon.

Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 is developed in partnership with the government, industry, and academia. It is a sphere small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Once on the surface, its two halves separate slightly, allowing it to roll around.

According to JAXA, the precision landing technology will become a powerful tool in the future exploration of hilly moon poles, and it will boost a lunar lander's chance of survival by helping it select the best location for solar power generation.

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Cover image sourced from SLIM JAXA/ X and RF._.studio/ Pexels.

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