Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) recently made history by successfully landing on the lunar surface. Operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), SLIM joined the ranks of India, China, the United States, and Russia as the fifth country to achieve a soft landing on the moon. This remarkable milestone, which occurred on January 19, was captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
From its vantage point 50 miles above the moon’s surface, the LRO spotted SLIM resting at its precise landing site. The images revealed rocky debris scattered near the lander’s location, evidence of material ejected from the nearby Shioli crater.
Notably, SLIM accomplished its mission objective by landing within 328 feet of its intended target despite facing an unexpected engine failure that caused it to end up upside down. This orientation, however, has hindered the lander from utilizing its solar panels effectively. Consequently, SLIM exclusively relies on its battery power. On January 21, the lander’s battery reached a critical state of 12% capacity, leading to a temporary power down to prevent an irreversible discharge.
Despite these challenges, JAXA remains hopeful that if sunlight reaches SLIM from the lunar west, the lander’s solar panels may regain sufficient energy to resume operations. In the meantime, SLIM has successfully deployed two mini-rovers, EV-1 and LEV-2, both of which continue to function as planned. Interestingly, the ball-like LEV-2 even managed to capture an image of its inverted host, showcasing the ingenuity and resilience of JAXA’s mission.
Japan’s SLIM moon lander marks an important contribution to humanity’s exploration of the moon, further advancing our understanding of Earth’s celestial neighbor. As scientists continue to monitor SLIM’s progress and analyze the data collected, we are reminded of the remarkable achievements and challenges that accompany space exploration.
1. What is the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM)?
The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) is a moon lander operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It recently achieved a historic soft landing on the lunar surface.
2. How does SLIM compare to other countries’ moon missions?
SLIM is the fifth country, after India, China, the United States, and Russia, to achieve a soft landing on the moon.
3. What is the significance of SLIM’s landing?
SLIM’s successful landing is an important milestone in humanity’s exploration of the moon, contributing to our understanding of Earth’s celestial neighbor.
4. What caused an engine failure for SLIM?
SLIM faced an unexpected engine failure that caused it to end up upside down, hindering its utilization of solar panels.
5. How is SLIM currently powered?
Due to the orientation of SLIM, it is currently relying exclusively on its battery power as its solar panels are not effectively receiving sunlight.
6. What did SLIM accomplish despite its challenges?
Despite its challenges, SLIM successfully accomplished its mission objective by landing within 328 feet of its intended target. It also deployed two mini-rovers, EV-1 and LEV-2, which continue to function as planned.
Key terms and jargon:
1. Soft landing: A controlled landing where a spacecraft or lander touches down on another celestial body without causing damage or destruction.
2. Lunar surface: The surface of the moon.
3. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO): A NASA spacecraft that orbits the moon and collects data and images of the lunar surface.