In a significant milestone for Japan’s space exploration ambitions, the Moon Sniper spacecraft successfully landed on the moon, establishing communication with the ground station. However, a notable challenge has emerged as the solar cells onboard are not generating power, reported the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Friday.
The attempted landing of the lander, affectionately dubbed “Moon Sniper,” was meticulously executed within 100 meters of the target by the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM. The descent onto the lunar surface occurred around 8:50 pm, marking a crucial step in Japan’s pursuit of advanced lunar exploration.
Despite the smooth landing and communication link with the ground station, the spacecraft faces a setback due to solar cells being unable to generate electricity. Hitoshi Kuninaka, the head of JAXA’s space lab, addressed the issue, stating, “SLIM is now operating only on its battery, and we are prioritizing the transfer of its data onto Earth.”
Launched in September atop the H-IIA rocket from the southern island of Tanegashima, the SLIM lander aims to achieve a “pinpoint” touchdown, demonstrating Japan’s capabilities in precision lunar exploration. The mission, if successful, would position Japan as the fifth country, following the United States, Russia, China, and India, to accomplish a successful lunar probe landing.
SLIM Lander’s Objectives:
The SLIM lander, equipped with compact lunar probes, is aptly named the ‘Moon Sniper’ in Japanese. Its primary goal is to achieve precise landing accuracy within 100 meters, a significant advancement in exploration strategies. The designated landing area for Chandrayaan-3, measuring 4 km x 2.4 km, underscores the mission’s emphasis on pinpoint accuracy.
JAXA emphasizes that the SLIM lander represents a qualitative shift in lunar exploration, showcasing the ability to land precisely at intended locations. This achievement challenges conventional norms of opting for easier landing spots, setting the stage for future exploration endeavors.
While the solar power challenge poses a hurdle, JAXA’s focus on transferring data to Earth underscores the commitment to salvage valuable information from the mission. The outcome of the SLIM mission will not only contribute to Japan’s space exploration legacy but also advance global understanding of lunar landscapes and exploration techniques.
As the SLIM lander navigates the complexities of lunar exploration, the mission serves as a testament to Japan’s technological prowess and commitment to pushing the boundaries of space exploration. The global space community eagerly awaits updates on the resolution of the solar power issue and the insights the SLIM lander may uncover during its mission on the moon.
Sources By Agencies