Japan has re-established communication with its SLIM lunar module

Restore contact! The Japanese SLIM has a lunar module “Resumed Operation”The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) made an announcement on Monday, January 29, indicating that power has been restored on board. “Last night we managed to establish communication with SLIM and resumed operations”JAXA said on the social network

“We immediately began scientific observations” Along with the onboard camera, the agency said, which also posted a photograph taken by the module showing a rock called a “toy poodle” on the lunar soil.

The SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) module landed on the historic moon on January 20, 55 meters from its initial target, with very high precision, making Japan the fifth country in the world to successfully land on a satellite. The natural world of Earth followed by the United States, the USSR, China and India. But due to an engine problem in the last ten meters of its descent, SLIM landed at a corner. JAXA announced that SLIM could not use its solar panels, forcing it to cut its power supply less than three hours after landing to conserve its batteries. She said she hoped to relight SLIM when the angle of the sun changed to its lunar landing zone.

“Observe and Collect Information”

The little lunar craft came back to life “Probably because the power production of its solar battery resumed when it was exposed to sunlight”A JAXA spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

“We will prioritize what we can do, which is observation and collection of information rather than adjusting the SLIM situation, which could worsen the situation”, he added. The moon describes its orbit in 27 Earth days, and daylight lasts for half of this period, the spokesperson recalled. Also, daylight where the module is located “Will run until about the end of January”.

Also Read | Japan’s SLIM probe that landed on the moon can be relaunched after powering out

SLIM landed in a small crater less than 300 meters in diameter, called Shioli. Before being shut down, the machine was able to land its two mini-rovers normally, which were supposed to analyze rocks from the Moon’s interior (lunar mantle), which is still poorly understood. One of these two rovers is a spherical probe called SORA-Q, barely larger than a tennis ball, which is capable of changing its shape to orbit the lunar surface. It was developed by JAXA in partnership with Japanese toy giant Takara Tomy.

World Race

Fifty years after the first human steps on the Moon by the Americans in 1969 – Earth’s natural satellite has once again become the subject of a global race. The American Artemis program plans to send astronauts back to the Moon, a project recently postponed until September 2026, building a permanent base at the site for the long term. China has similar competitive plans.

Japan’s first two moon landing attempts failed. In 2022, the JAXA probe, Omotenashi, on the American Artemis-1 mission experienced a fatal battery failure shortly after its exit into space. And last year, a lander from the young private Japanese company Espace crashed on the lunar surface, missing a crucial step in the gentle descent.

Getting to the moon is a huge technological challenge even for the major space powers: the private American company Astrobotic, under contract with NASA, also failed to land its first spacecraft on the moon in early January.

Also Read | NASA has postponed the return of astronauts to the moon until 2026

The world with AFP

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