Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

The Japanese lunar probe returns to service

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jan29,2024

The lunar probe

Agence France-Presse

Nearly ten days after its historic moon landing, the Japanese SLIM module was able to resume “its operations”, announced the Japanese space agency (JAXA), which had been forced to interrupt its power supply due to x27;a problem with its solar panels.

Yesterday (Sunday) evening we managed to establish communication with SLIM and resumed operations!, welcomed JAXA on social networkWe immediately began scientific observations with the onboard camera, said JAXA, which also posted a photograph taken by the module showing the rock called Toy Poodle, on the lunar surface.

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The surface of the rock called Toy Poodle on the lunar surface.

The SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) module successfully landed on the moon on January 20 55 meters from its initial target, a very high degree of precision, making Japan the fifth country to successfully land on the natural satellite of the Earth after the United States, the USSR, China and India.

But due to an engine problem in the last tens of meters of its descent, SLIM landed inclined and its photovoltaic cells oriented towards the west did not receive sunlight.

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The small lunar craft has come back to life probably because the production of #x27;Energy from its solar battery resumed while it was exposed to sunlight, a JAXA spokesperson told AFP.

We will prioritize what we can do, which is observe and collect information, rather than adjusting SLIM's position, which could make the situation worse, he said. he added.

The Moon describes its orbit in 27 Earth days, and daylight there lasts about half that duration, recalled this door -speech. Also, daylight where the module is located will last approximately until the end of January.

SLIM landed in a small crater less than 300 meters in diameter, called Shioli. Before being turned off, the machine was able to disembark normally its two minirobots, supposed to carry out analyzes of rocks coming from the internal structure of the Moon (the lunar mantle), which is still very poorly understood.

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Prototype of the SORA-Q mini-probe.

One of these two rovers is a spherical probe called SORA-Q, barely larger than a tennis ball, capable of modifying its shape to move on the lunar surface. It was developed by JAXA, in partnership with Japanese toy giant Takara Tomy.

More than 50 years after the first human steps on the Moon – carried out by the Americans in 1969 – the natural satellite of the Earth has once again become the object of a global race.

The American Artemis program plans to send astronauts back to the Moon, a project recently postponed to September 2026, with in the longer term the construction of a permanent base on site. China has similar competing plans.

Japan's first two moon landing attempts went wrong. In 2022, a JAXA probe, Omotenashi, on board the American Artemis 1 mission, experienced a fatal battery failure shortly after its ejection into space.

And last year, a lander from the young private Japanese company ispace crashed on the surface of the Moon, having missed the crucial stage of descent smoothly.

Reaching the Moon remains an immense technological challenge, even for the major space powers: the private American company Astrobotic, under contract with NASA, also failed in early January to land its first spacecraft on the Moon.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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