February 25, 2024

Science – Japanese lunar probe comes to new life – Knowledge

Tokyo (dpa) – The Japanese probe “Slim”, which landed on the surface of the moon, began work after a power outage that lasted for several days. As announced by the Japanese space agency JAXA, it appears that solar panels are now producing electricity. The SLIM (Lunar Exploration Intelligent Lander) rover landed on the lunar surface on January 20, Japan time. However, the device's solar panels, which were only 2.4 meters high, no longer provided any electricity after landing because they were facing west and thus away from the sun. The probe was initially running on battery power before being shut down.

“SLIM was successfully contacted last night and operations have resumed!” Jaxa said on the X platform (formerly Twitter). She added that the probe is now also exploring the surface of the moon and has successfully sent images of rocks to Earth, including an image called “toy poodle.” JAXA hypothesizes that despite their strange orientation, the solar panels can produce electricity as soon as sunlight hits them from the moon's western side.

Japan is the fifth country to land on the moon

After the former Soviet Union, the United States, China and India, Japan is the fifth country to achieve a soft landing on an Earth satellite. SLIM blasted off to the moon aboard an H2A carrier rocket from Japan's Tanegashima Spaceport in September. JAXA was satisfied with the project despite initial problems with power supply. Because landing on the moon achieved unprecedented accuracy of less than ten metres. It was said that “SLIM” may have landed only three to four meters from its destination.

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The SLIM vehicle landed as planned near Shiuli Crater in a low area known as the “Nectar Sea.” The Japanese Space Agency hopes that the successful precision landing of SLIM will lead to the transition from the era of “Land where we can” to the era of “Land where we want.”

The data obtained will be used to plan future lunar missions, for example as part of the US-led “Artemis” program. NASA wants to return humans to the moon again after more than 50 years, although the Artemis 3 lunar landing mission was recently postponed to September 2026.

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