What happened to Japan's moon lander? Know more about the Spacraft as it survives a second freezing two-weeks long lunar night

Japan's space agency announced on Monday that the country's first moon lander may have survived a second, freezing lunar night after responding to a signal from Earth.

Published on Feb 27, 2024  |  05:27 PM IST |  28.7K
(Image Courtesy: Twitter)
Image courtesy: Twitter
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  • Japan's first moon lander responded to a signal from Earth

On Monday, the nation's space agency announced that Japan's Moon lander had provided another surprise by waking following the two-week lunar night. The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), an unmanned spacecraft, landed at an odd angle last month, causing its solar panels to face the wrong direction.

Japan's moon lander survives two-week-long lunar night

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said that it reactivated for two days when the sun's angle changed and conducted scientific investigations of a crater using a high-spec camera. When night fell again, it fell back asleep, and JAXA was unsure if it would wake up again because it was "not designed for the harsh lunar nights."

JAXA said on X, formerly Twitter, "Yesterday we sent a command, to which SLIM responded. SLIM succeeded in surviving a night on the Moon's surface while maintaining its communication function!" 

The statement stated that because of the high temperature of the communication equipment and the fact that it was still lunar midday, communications were "terminated after a short time." However, it stated: "Preparations are being made to resume operations when instrument temperatures have sufficiently cooled."

On January 20, SLIM, also known as the "Moon Sniper" due to its precise landing technology, landed inside its designated landing zone. Japan became the fifth country to accomplish a "soft landing" on the Moon, following the US, the USSR, China, and India. The achievement was a victory for the country's space program following a run of recent setbacks.

However, the craft experienced engine issues during its descent, which caused it to tip over, with the solar panels pointing west rather than skyward. 

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Other countries attempting to reach the moon

The latest news was released after NASA celebrated the successful launch of its new flagship H3 rocket on February 17. This was the agency's third try at launching a rocket after years of delays and two unsuccessful attempts.

Other nations attempting to reach the moon include South Korea, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates. The privately funded Odysseus lander, which was the first American spacecraft to land on the Moon since the Apollo period, touched down close to the lunar south pole on Thursday.

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Know more about JAXA

When was JAXA founded?
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency was founded on 1 October 2003.

Where is the headquarters of JAXA?
The headquarters of JAXA is in Chōfu, Tokyo, Japan.

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