• Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Japan announces successful SLIM lunar landing

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People raise their hands after a successful moon landing by the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, in a public viewing event in Sagamihara, south of Tokyo, Japan, on Jan. 20, 2024.

Kim Kyung-hoon | Reuters

Japan staked its claim as a national space power on Friday, as its SLIM spacecraft successfully landed on the lunar surface.

The country’s SLIM lander launched in September and touched down on the lunar surface around 10:20 a.m. ET, according to telemetry readings by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA.

JAXA’s president, Hiroshi Yamakawa, confirmed that the soft landing was successful, and the spacecraft was able to send signals after its descent. However, the solar panel capabilities seemed to be impaired upon landing, leaving the spacecraft reliant on battery power.

“I believe this was a greater step forward,” said Hitoshi Kuninaka, director general of JAXA.

The feat makes Japan the fifth country to land on the moon, following Russia — then the Soviet Union — the U.S., China and India. Last year, India joined the list of moon landings with its Chandrayaan-3 mission.

Japan’s SLIM, which stands for Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, is a cargo research mission. It carries a variety of scientific payloads, including an analysis camera and a pair of lunar rovers.

An artist’s rendition of the SLIM lunar lander on the moon’s surface.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

The SLIM lunar lander before launch.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

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