23 June 2024
Japan moon lander enters lunar orbit

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In a monumental leap for Japan’s space exploration, the SLIM spacecraft gracefully slipped into the moon’s embrace on Monday, setting the stage for an unprecedented lunar touchdown slated for the coming month.

Oh wow, folks, have you heard the latest out-of-this-world news? Japan’s SLIM space probe, affectionately dubbed the “Moon Sniper,” has made a grand entrance into the moon’s orbit as of Monday. That’s a huge leap for our celestial neighbor explorations! It’s like hitting a bullseye in a game of cosmic darts – this probe aims to land within a mere 100 meters of its target on the lunar surface. Imagine that precision; it’s like trying to lob a paper airplane and have it land right on the teacher’s desk from the back of the classroom!



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Now, let’s talk about the cool tech on board. SLIM is not just a regular old space probe; it’s got a spherical buddy that’s slightly larger than a tennis ball and – get this – it can morph its shape to scoot around on the Moon! It’s almost like one of those fancy shape-shifting toys, but, you know, for science.

This isn’t just a shot in the dark. The team at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been working for two whole decades to make this happen. They’re not content with just getting “somewhere on the moon” anymore. Nope, they want to nail it down to the inch – or, well, within 100 meters, which in space terms, is pretty incredible. It’s like playing a video game and going from “Eh, I finished the level,” to “Boom! High score, perfect run, no damage!”

And there’s more at stake here than just bragging rights. By landing so precisely, researchers are hoping to get their hands on some lunar permafrost samples. Why? Because there’s a chance there could be water on the moon, and finding it would be like discovering a secret oasis in the driest desert. It’s a mystery that has puzzled brains much bigger than mine, and SLIM might just help crack the code.

Sure, Japan has had a couple of hiccups before – a lunar probe named Omotenashi missed the mark last year, and a private company called ispace took a bit of a tumble with a “hard landing.” But hey, that’s science for you! It’s all about trial and error, dusting yourself off, and trying again until you get it right.

So, keep your eyes peeled next month when SLIM is expected to make its big move and touch down on the moon. If all goes well, Japan will join the cool kids’ club of countries that have successfully landed probes on the lunar surface. It’s super exciting stuff, and who knows what discoveries this little “Moon Sniper” might bring back from its journey? Stay tuned, because the next chapter of our lunar adventures is just getting started!

SOURCE: Japan moon lander enters lunar orbit

https://phys.org/news/2023-12-japan-moon-lander-lunar-orbit.html

FAQ’s

1. What is the SLIM space probe?

The SLIM space probe is a Japanese spacecraft that has entered the moon’s orbit with the goal of landing within 100 meters of its target on the lunar surface. It is equipped with advanced technology and a shape-shifting spherical buddy.

2. How long has the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) been working on this mission?

The team at JAXA has been working for two decades to make the SLIM mission a reality. They have dedicated years of research and development to achieve precise lunar landings.

3. Why is it important to land precisely on the moon?

Landing precisely on the moon allows researchers to collect lunar permafrost samples. These samples could potentially contain water, which is a significant discovery in the quest for understanding the moon’s composition and potential for future exploration.

4. What are the previous lunar landing attempts by Japan?

Japan has had a couple of previous lunar landing attempts. One was a lunar probe named Omotenashi, which missed the mark last year. Another attempt was made by a private company called ispace, but it resulted in a “hard landing.” These experiences highlight the challenges and learning process of lunar exploration.

5. When is SLIM expected to touch down on the moon?

SLIM is expected to make its landing on the moon next month. The mission’s success will mark Japan’s entry into the group of countries that have successfully landed probes on the lunar surface.



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Topics: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Lunar exploration, Lunar water discovery

JAXA
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) (国立研究開発法人宇宙航空研究開発機構, Kokuritsu-kenkyū-kaihatsu-hōjin Uchū Kōkū Kenkyū Kaihatsu Kikō, lit. 'National Research and Development Agency Aerospace Research and Development Organisation') is the Japanese national air and space agency. Through the merger of three previously independent organizations, JAXA was formed on 1 October 2003. JAXA is responsible for...
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Exploration of the Moon
The physical exploration of the Moon began when Luna 2, a space probe launched by the Soviet Union, made a deliberate impact on the surface of the Moon on September 14, 1959. Prior to that the only available means of exploration had been observation from Earth. The invention of the...
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Lunar water
Lunar water is water that is present on the Moon. Diffuse water molecules in low concentrations can persist at the Moon's sunlit surface, as discovered by the SOFIA observatory (an 80/20 joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Centre, DLR) in 2020. Gradually, water vapor is decomposed by sunlight,...
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