OH, NO: Japanese SLIM Lunar Lander Is Upside Down on the Moon Surface!
The bittersweet tale of the historic Japanese Lunar lander had another dramatic development, as photographic evidence shows SLIM module is UPSIDE DOWN on the surface of the moon.
The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) appears to have landed on its nose, according to an image snapped by the robot probe SORA-Q, successfully ejected before the lander touched down last week.
“An abnormality in the main engine affected the landing attitude of the spacecraft,” the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency admitted in a statement.
The image also explains why SLIM had so much trouble generating power with its blocked solar panels, something that ultimately forced scientists to shut it down just three hours after touchdown.”
The lander apparently has no way to right itself.
The successful and precise lunar landing of SLIM made Japan the fifth country in the world to land a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon, after the Soviet Union, the United States, China and India. But the problems soon were apparent, the solar cells were not charing, and the lander had to be shut down three hours after landing, with just 15% of battery power left.
Japanese Agency JAXA was keeping a hopeful smile on things.
“‘If sunlight hits the Moon from the west in the future, we believe there’s a possibility of power generation, and we’re currently preparing for restoration’, JAXA wrote.”
The Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 (LEV-2 / SORA-Q) has successfully taken an image of the #SLIM spacecraft on the Moon. LEV-2 is the world’s first robot to conduct fully autonomous exploration on the lunar surface. https://t.co/NOboD0ZJIr pic.twitter.com/mfuuceu2WA
— JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (@ISAS_JAXA_EN) January 25, 2024
Even with SLIM ‘asleep’, the image snapped by SORA-Q followed a plan B path to mission control, having been first relayed to a second robot called LEV-1 also successfully deployed while landing. LEV-1, for his part, was set up with a way to independently contact planet Earth.
JAXA is still calling the mission a big win.
“The accomplishment of LEV-1’s leaping movements on the lunar surface, inter-robot communication between LEV-1 and SORA-Q, and fully autonomous operations represent ground-breaking achievement,” the agency said. “It would be regarded as a valuable technology demonstration for future lunar explorations, and the acquired knowledge and experience will be applied in upcoming missions.”
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