The Slim moon lander from Japan has successfully resolved a power issue and is now able to begin its scientific activities on the moon.
The Japanese space agency announced on Monday that their Moon lander has resumed functioning, suggesting that power has been restored following its unintentional upside down landing.
The spacecraft, known as the “lunar marksman”, rolled down a slope of a crater upon landing on January 20th, resulting in its solar panels facing the incorrect direction and rendering them unable to produce power.
Japan’s space agency, JAXA, made it a priority to transmit landing data from the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) before its battery was depleted. However, there is a possibility that the probe will have the opportunity to recharge once the western side of the moon is exposed to sunlight in the upcoming days.
“Jaxa announced on Monday that we were able to reconnect with Slim and resume our mission. We promptly began conducting scientific experiments using the MBC (multi-band camera) and successfully captured our first images using the 10-band observation feature, as stated by the agency.”
The photograph, taken by Slim, of a rock known as “toy poodle” near the lander was shared by the agency on X.
Japan became the fifth country to successfully achieve a soft landing on the moon, joining the ranks of the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and India.
The lander successfully landed within 100 meters of its intended target, ultimately touching down only 55 meters away. This level of precision far exceeds the typical landing zone range, which is typically measured in several kilometers according to experts.
Slim was targeting a crater that is thought to reveal the moon’s mantle, the typically deep layer beneath its crust, on the surface.
However, approximately three hours after landing, Jaxa made the decision to disable Slim, even though it still had 12% power left, in anticipation of possibly resuming its function when the angle of the sun shifted.
According to Jaxa, two probes were able to detach successfully. One of the probes has a transmitter, while the other is specifically designed to move around the moon’s surface and transmit images back to Earth. This mini-rover can change shape and is slightly larger than a tennis ball. It was created in collaboration with the company responsible for producing Transformer toys.
In the past, Japan has had two attempts at lunar missions, both of which were unsuccessful. In 2022, they were unable to successfully send a lunar probe called Omotenashi as part of the United States’ Artemis 1 mission.
In April, the Japanese startup called ispace attempted to be the first private company to successfully land on the moon. Unfortunately, they lost communication with their spacecraft during what they referred to as a “hard landing”.