NASA’s latest images of Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) have been released, showcasing the successful pinpoint landing on the lunar surface. The breathtaking images were captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at an altitude of approximately 80 kilometers both before and after the historic landing.
These captivating images reveal changes in reflectance around the lander, a result of engine exhaust sweeping the moon’s surface. This significant achievement has propelled Japan to become the fifth country in the world to land a spacecraft on the moon, joining the ranks of the former Soviet Union, the United States, China, and India.
SLIM’s touchdown was notably impressive, landing just 55 meters away from its intended target site in the “Sea of Nectar” region. This accomplishment demonstrates Japan’s prowess in space exploration and opens up exciting possibilities for future lunar missions.
Nevertheless, following its successful landing, SLIM encountered a setback as its orientation was not aligned properly, hindering the generation of power through its solar panels. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) believes this unexpected orientation issue may have been caused by a loss of thrust in one of the main engines.
However, hope remains as JAXA anticipates power generation to commence once the west side of the Moon is exposed to sunlight. This remarkable feat showcases the resilience and determination of the Japanese space program to overcome challenges and continue advancing in the field of space exploration.
In addition to the successful landing, SLIM deployed an adorable palm-sized robot named SORA-Q prior to touchdown. This tiny robot has already made its mark on history by capturing an image of SLIM tilting over on the Moon’s surface. SORA-Q’s contribution highlights the significance of robotic exploration in gathering data and enhancing our understanding of extraterrestrial environments.
The accomplishment of Japan’s SLIM mission not only adds to the growing list of lunar exploration milestones but also solidifies Japan’s position as a leading contributor to space research and innovation. As the world continues to be captivated by space exploration, NASA’s images of SLIM’s successful landing serve as a reminder of humanity’s quest for knowledge and discovery beyond the confines of our own planet.