19 July 2024
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Japan’s Moon Probe Survives Another Chilly Lunar Night

Japan’s ambitious moon lander, known as the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) and aptly nicknamed the “Moon Sniper” for its precision in landing, has once again defied expectations by surviving its second long lunar night. This remarkable achievement was announced by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), marking a significant milestone in Japan’s space exploration efforts.

The SLIM made its historic touchdown on the lunar surface in January, becoming only the fifth nation in the world to achieve a soft landing on the moon. However, upon landing, the spacecraft encountered a minor setback as it tilted at an angle that caused its solar panels to face in the wrong direction. Despite this initial challenge, the probe managed to endure the extreme cold of the lunar night, with temperatures plummeting to as low as -130 degrees Celsius (-200 degrees Fahrenheit).

Revival and Continued Operations of the Moon Probe

Following the end of the first lunar night, the SLIM was successfully revived in late February and resumed its operations. It once again showcased its resilience by surviving the subsequent lunar night and transmitting new images back to Earth. However, the recent announcement from JAXA revealed that the probe has now been placed back into a dormant state, indicating a temporary pause in its activities.

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Published on: February 26, 2024 Description: Intuitive Machines' lunar lander Odysseus seen in first images on the moon. Japan's SLIM woke up after the lunar night.
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During the latest operation, JAXA conducted checks on various devices onboard the probe by activating switches and applying loads. Despite encountering some malfunctions in certain functions of the Multi-band Camera (MBC) used for examining lunar rocks, the overall status of the probe remains stable. The MBC plays a crucial role in analyzing rocks around lunar craters, which are believed to contain material from the moon’s mantle, providing valuable insights into the moon’s formation.

Significance of Lunar Exploration and Research

The exploration of the moon holds immense scientific value, offering researchers the opportunity to study the lunar surface and gain a deeper understanding of the moon’s geology and origins. By investigating lunar rocks and minerals, scientists can unravel the mysteries of how the moon was formed and its evolution over billions of years.

The data collected by probes like the SLIM not only contribute to our knowledge of the moon but also have broader implications for planetary science and space exploration. The discovery of lunar mantle material within rocks could provide crucial clues about the early history of the moon and shed light on the processes that shaped our celestial neighbor.

Future Prospects and Continued Mission

As the SLIM undergoes periodic cycles of dormancy and activity to navigate the challenging lunar environment, the mission remains a testament to Japan’s technological prowess and commitment to space exploration. JAXA’s ongoing efforts to monitor and maintain the probe demonstrate the agency’s dedication to maximizing the scientific potential of the mission.

Looking ahead, the successful revival and operations of the SLIM pave the way for continued exploration of the moon and the pursuit of new discoveries. With each milestone achieved, Japan’s moon probe brings us closer to unlocking the secrets of our closest cosmic companion and expanding our horizons in the realm of space exploration.

Links to additional Resources:

1. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency 2. NASA 3. European Space Agency

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Moon landing, Lunar exploration

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...
Read more: JAXA

Moon landing
A Moon landing or lunar landing is the arrival of a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon, including both crewed and robotic missions. The first human-made object to touch the Moon was Luna 2 in 1959.In 1969 Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the Moon....
Read more: Moon landing

Exploration of the Moon
The physical exploration of the Moon began when Luna 2, a space probe launched by the Soviet Union, made an 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 optical...
Read more: Exploration of the Moon

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