Science & Nature

Japan’s Moon Landing Probe “SLIM” to Awaken from Dormancy in Mid-February

JAXA Prepares to Revive Lunar Explorer SLIM, Setting the Stage for a Pioneering Return to Action on the Moon.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has revealed plans to reactivate its lunar exploration probe, “SLIM,” which entered a dormant state after completing its historic landing on the moon, making Japan the fifth country in the world to achieve this feat.

On January 31, JAXA officially concluded the scheduled activities for SLIM as the spacecraft’s landing site succumbed to the lunar sunset, rendering solar power generation inoperable. As a result, SLIM entered a dormant state, temporarily suspending its mission.

JAXA has now disclosed its intention to reignite SLIM’s operations in mid-February, strategically timing the revival when the lunar surface is once again illuminated by sunlight, allowing the spacecraft’s solar panels to resume power generation. However, the agency acknowledges the inherent challenges, noting that SLIM was not designed to endure the extreme cold of the lunar night, leaving uncertainties about the successful restart of its mission.

SLIM accomplished a historic touchdown near a crater in the “Sea of Divine Sake,” situated on the moon’s south side of the equator on January 20. Notably, it achieved a world-first “pinpoint landing,” successfully landing approximately 55 meters east of its designated target.

The mid-February revival attempt marks a crucial phase for SLIM’s mission, and JAXA scientists are eager to capitalize on the opportunity to resume data collection and exploration activities. The lunar probe’s initial success in achieving pinpoint accuracy during its landing has heightened expectations for the valuable insights and data it could potentially provide about the moon’s surface and geological composition.

However, the challenge lies in SLIM’s resilience to the lunar night’s extreme cold temperatures. JAXA remains cautiously optimistic about the reactivation, emphasizing that SLIM’s primary purpose is scientific exploration, and any additional operational success will be a testament to the agency’s technical prowess.

As the world awaits the outcome of this ambitious lunar mission revival, the potential continuation of SLIM’s exploration efforts could contribute significantly to our understanding of the moon’s mysteries and advance the capabilities of future space exploration endeavors. The mid-February re-operation holds the promise of unlocking further discoveries in the vast expanse of our celestial neighbor.

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