Japanese exploration of the Moon “revived”: Sun illuminates its power panels and communication with Earth is reestablished

The Intelligent Lunar Research Lander (SLIM) is seen in this image taken by LEV-2 on the Moon, released on January 25, 2024. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), TAKARA TOMY, Sony Group, Doshisha University / via REUTERS

Japan's lunar rover rover launched Monday after several tense days without sunlight needed to generate electricity.

Japan's first lunar probe reached its destination in a precision landing on January 20, but landed in the wrong position, leaving its solar panels unable to see the sun.

But with the dawn of the lunar day, exploration seems to have power.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said on Monday The investigation was able to be contacted on Sunday night And the spacecraft resumed its mission, taking pictures of the moon's surface and sending them back to Earth.

An image of lunar soil transmitted by an instrument on the Japanese SLIM module. Jaxa

After a last-minute engine failure caused the Intelligent Moon Research Lander, or SLIM, to make a harder-than-planned landing, JAXA used battery power to gather as much data as possible about the lander and the probe's surroundings. The spacecraft shut down to wait for the sun to rise in the lunar sky in late January.

Powered up, SLIM continued to analyze the composition of olivine rocks on the lunar surface with its multiband spectral camera, searching for clues to the moon's origin and evolution, the agency said. Previous observations suggest that the Moon may have formed when the Earth collided with another planet.

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A black-and-white photo released by JAXA on social media showed the moon's rocky surface, including a rock the agency said it named “Toy Poodle” after being spotted in early images. The study analyzes six rocks, all named after dog breeds..

SLIM is expected to have enough sunlight to operate for several Earth days, possibly up to Jupiter. JAXA said it was unclear whether the spacecraft would return to service after another very cold lunar night.

Daiichi Hirano, Hitoshi Kuninaga, Shinichiro Sakai and Masatsuku Otsuki of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) smile in front of a screen showing a picture taken by LEV-2 on the Moon after a press conference on the SLIM lunar landing site. , in Tokyo, Japan, January 25, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

SLIM landed 55 meters (60 yards) from its target, an area covered by volcanic rock, between two craters near Shioli Crater. Previous lunar missions typically targeted flat areas at least 10 kilometers (6 mi) wide.

SLIM carried two autonomous probes that were launched shortly before landing, recording landing, ambient and other lunar data.

The moon landing made Japan the fifth country in the world to reach the moon's surface after the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India.

(With information from AP)

Misty Tate

"Freelance twitter advocate. Hardcore food nerd. Avid writer. Infuriatingly humble problem solver."

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