Japan has accomplished the remarkable achievement of becoming the 5th nation to land a spacecraft on the moon. The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) arrived safely near Shioli crater on Friday, January 19th, after traversing 110 days from its September 2023 launch at Japan’s Tanegashima space center.

SLIM touched down yesterday at 10:20 AM Eastern Time . Its landing expands the exclusive group of countries that have reached the lunar surface to include Japan along with Russia, the United States, China and India.

According to Hitoshi Kuninaka, JAXA’s director general, “We believe the landing maneuver succeeded. The craft transmitted signals to Earth, meaning its equipment is largely operational.”

However, SLIM has experienced an unforeseen power shortage – its solar panels are not generating electricity. With the lander now dependent on finite battery reserves, its operational lifespan has been sharply decreased, hampering objectives to extensively study lunar composition.

Prior to landing, SLIM deployed two small rover probes – Lunar Excursion Vehicle 1 to document area temperatures and radiation, and the spherically-shaped SORA-Q which uses cameras and transformed wheel-like hemispheres to inspect the terrain.

It has yet to be determined if SLIM achieved its precision target of reaching within 100 meters of a site on Shioli crater’s slope. This would help support theories on the Moon’s giant impact origin.

Though brief, the mission marks a historic success for Japan’s space program after two failed attempts in 2022-2023. An American craft, Nova-C, next aims to land on the Moon’s south pole in February. SLIM becomes the 25th lunar landing out of 150 total attempts since 1958.


SCIFI Radio Staff
SCIFI Radio Staff

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