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Japan’s Moon lander wakes up a 3rd time
Published on: Wednesday, April 24, 2024
By: AFP
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Japan’s Moon lander wakes up a 3rd time
SLIM landed on the Moon at a wonky angle that left its solar panels facing the wrong way in January. (JAXA/Takara Tomy/Sony Group Corporation/Doshisha University/AP pic)
TOKYO: Japan’s Moon lander woke up for a third time after its main functions survived another frigid two-week lunar night, the country’s space agency said Wednesday.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), dubbed the “Moon Sniper” for its landing precision, touched down in January – making Japan only the fifth nation to achieve a soft lunar landing.

But the unmanned lightweight spacecraft, carrying a mini-rover that moves like a turtle, landed at a wonky angle that left its solar panels facing the wrong way.

Defying pessimistic predictions, the probe was revived in late February once the lunar night, which lasts about 14 Earth days, came to an end.

Despite facing temperatures as low as -130 °Celsius, it repeated the feat late last month and transmitted new images back to Earth.

On Wednesday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said it had succeeded again in communicating with the probe after it woke up for the third time.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, it posted a new image of the Moon’s surface that it had received from the lander.

“SLIM has kept its main functions after surviving three nights,” said JAXA, which previously said the spacecraft was not designed for the harsh lunar nights.

“We will continue checking the status of SLIM carefully, and make clear which parts are prone to deterioration and which parts are less prone to deterioration, depending on the Moon’s environment in the daytime and at night,” JAXA said.

The probe’s mission aims to examine a part of the Moon’s mantle – the usually deep inner layer beneath its crust – believed to be accessible at the crater where it landed.

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