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JAXA reports that communication with the SLIM lander can be restored

After the historic landing of their Smart Lander on the Moon, mission engineers discovered problems with power generation and decided to temporarily turn off the module in order to restore its operation under sufficient illumination from the sun's rays. This was reported by the Japanese space agency JAXA on Monday, January 22.

Thanks to its unique precision landing capability, Japan's module, dubbed Moon Sniper as part of the unmanned Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission, became the fifth object to successfully make a soft landing on the Moon.

However, immediately after landing, the Japanese aerospace research agency JAXA was unable to confirm the functionality of the module's solar panels. Full technical data from the mission about the descent and images of the lunar surface were obtained before shutting down the module. JAXA emphasized that they are pleased with the data received and will likely be able to restore the module’s operation if sunlight hits its solar panels.

SLIM is one of several new lunar missions launched by governments and private companies since the 50th anniversary of man's first landing on the Moon. Despite significant difficulties with landing and communications, only four other participants managed to reach the Moon: the USA, the USSR, China and recently India.

Requiring a minimum battery charge, mission engineers shut down the SLIM module's battery at 12% charge to avoid potential complications when restoring operation.

Data analysis currently being carried out at the mission control center will determine whether the module reached its target and landed within 100 meters of its intended location. The mission is aimed at a crater where the Moon's mantle, usually found at depth, protrudes to the surface. Analysis of rocks in this area will reveal the secrets of possible water resources on the Moon, which is key to the creation of future lunar bases as points on the way to Mars.

Two modules associated with the SLIM transmitter and capable of moving along the lunar surface and transmitting images to Earth have successfully detached from the main module.

JAXA plans to announce mission results and the status of SLIM soon. Despite the problems, the agency says it is pleased with the successful landing and hopes to gain valuable data.

Japanese lunar missions have failed twice before, both public and private. In 2022, Japan failed to deliver the Omotenashi lunar probe as part of the American Artemis 1 mission. And in April 2023, the Japanese company ispace failed to become the first private company to successfully land on the Moon and lost contact with the device after a hard landing.

JAXA reports that communication with the SLIM lander can be restored