Japan claimed a share among national space powers on Friday, as its SLIM spacecraft reached the lunar surface.
Japan’s SLIM lander was launched in September 2023 and touched down on the lunar surface around 10:20 am Tokyo time on 21st January 2024. Space researchers in the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or JAXA continue to monitor the activities of the Spacecraft since its landing on the moon’s surface, However, there is no official confirmation about the success of the mission yet.
Remarkably, this achievement makes Japan the fifth country to land on the moon following Russia, the United States, China and India. India joined the list of moon landings with its Chandrayaan-3 mission last year.
Japan’s SLIM, “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.
Hitoshi Kuninaka, head of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, said they believe that rovers were launched and data were being transmitted back to Earth from the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM.
But he said that SLIM’s solar battery wasn’t generating power and the battery life of the spacecraft would only last a few more hours. He said that the priority now was for the craft to gather as much moon data as possible on the remaining battery.
Last year, Japanese company ispace made its first attempt to land on the moon, but the spacecraft crashed in the final moments. And, earlier this month, U.S. company Astrobotic got its first moon mission off the ground but encountered problems shortly after launch. The flight was cut short and failed to make a lunar landing attempt.