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Japanese lunar lander SLIM resumed operations after a two-week forced rest

“Last night a command was sent to SLIM and a response was received confirming that the ship survived the lunar night and retained communication capabilities! “,” Jaxa enthused on X (formerly Twitter).

The SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) module successfully landed on the Moon on January 20, 55 m from the original target, that is, with a very high degree of accuracy, making Japan the fifth country to successfully land on the Earth’s natural satellite after the USA, USSR, China and India . But due to engine failure in the final tens of meters of descent, SLIM landed at an angle and its west-facing photovoltaic cells received no sunlight. SLIM landed in a small crater less than 300 m in diameter called Scioli. Before shutting down, the device was able to properly land its two mini-rovers, which were supposed to analyze rocks emanating from the inner structure of the Moon (lunar mantle), which is still very poorly understood.

More than 50 years after Americans first set foot on it in 1969, the Moon is once again the subject of a global race. The American Artemis program plans to send astronauts back to the Moon. This project has recently been postponed to September 2026, and in the longer term a permanent base will be built on the site. China has similar competing plans.

Japan’s first two attempts to land on the moon ended in failure. In 2022, Jaxa’s Omotenashi probe aboard the US Artemis 1 mission suffered a fatal battery failure shortly after being ejected into space. And last year, the landing module of the young private Japanese company ispace crashed on the surface of the Moon, missing the crucial stage of its gentle descent.

Last week, the United States returned to the moon for the first time in more than 50 years following an investigation into the activities of the private American company Intuitive Machines. The company said its probe was likely lying on its side, but the scientific data and images could still be recovered.

Source: Le Parisien

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