Japan’s Upside-Down Moon Probe Resumes Mission After Power Revival

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After experiencing power problems during its difficult lunar landing on January 20, which left it upside-down with its solar panels facing the wrong direction, Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) has been reactivated, over a week after it was first launched. The successful restoration of communication with the SLIM spacecraft allowed for the commencement of operations aimed at solving the riddles of the Moon’s beginnings, as stated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Monday.

Although the probe’s solar panels are positioned awkwardly, JAXA had predicted that a change in sunshine direction could allow the probe’s batteries to recharge from them. It is unclear how long this new power source will last because SLIM was not built to last a lunar night, which is predicted to occur on Thursday. 

On January 25, photos taken by SLIM’s multi-band spectral camera prior to the spacecraft losing power were released. In spite of the previous setback, JAXA today unveiled a new photo of the “toy poodle” rock formation, demonstrating the ongoing scientific investigation.

Japan is now the fifth country, after the US, China, India, and the former Soviet Union, to land a spacecraft on the moon, despite difficulties in landing position brought on by a malfunction in one of the SLIM spacecraft’s main engines. This information was reported by Reuters.

LEV-2, a tiny “baseball-sized” morphing robot that was deployed during landing alongside the LEV-1 “hopping” lunar rover, captured a photograph of the lander’s unusual touchdown, which was brought on by the engine failure. Even with the unplanned fall, JAXA declared SLIM’s mission successful since it arrived at a “unprecedented” 180 feet near its destination. This success demonstrates the usefulness of vision-based “pinpoint” landing technology, which JAXA hopes will be an important instrument in furthering lunar exploration.

 

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