SLIM captures lunar image before entering dormancy: Japanese lander rests during hard lunar night

By landing only 100 metres from its intended target, SLIM demonstrated extraordinary precision and accomplished an impressive feat. However, problems developed when the lander landed with its solar panels facing the incorrect way due to a minor skewed landing angle.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), a Japanese lunar explorer, has briefly entered a state of dormancy after its capture of an impressive lunar surface image. SLIM is currently in a two-week sleep mode during the hard lunar night, according to an update released by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on X, the previous Twitter site.

After completing activities on January 30 and 31, which included a successful soft landing on the Moon, the spacecraft went into slumber. By landing only 100 metres from its intended target, SLIM demonstrated extraordinary precision and accomplished an impressive feat. However, problems developed when the lander landed with its solar panels facing the incorrect way due to a minor skewed landing angle. It was necessary to temporarily shut down SLIM just three hours after the spectacular landing.

Despite the little delay, SLIM had completed its job and successfully launched two probes. Two probes were deployed, one with a transmitter and the other to explore the lunar surface and take pictures to send back to Earth. The designers of Transformer Toys collaborated on the development of the mini-rover, which is about the size of a tennis ball.

With temperatures dropping to about minus 208 degrees Fahrenheit (below 130 degrees Celsius), SLIM decides to go into dormancy as it prepares for the hard lunar night. According to JAXA, the lander will stay inactive until the middle of February while it awaits the reemergence of sunlight to power its solar cells. The lander was not built for such harsh circumstances.

JAXA was upbeat about SLIM’s possible recovery, pointing to favourable lunar daylight lighting and temperature conditions that are anticipated to start on or around February 15. After surviving the lunar night, the spacecraft will return to its intended purpose and provide important information and new perspectives for the study of the moon.

Japan attained a historic accomplishment on January 20th when SLIM completed a soft lunar landing, becoming the sixth country in history to do so. As it joined the ranks of the US, the USSR, China, and India, Japan demonstrated technological prowess and accuracy by landing only 55 metres from its target.

The mission continues to serve as a tribute to Japan’s increasing involvement in lunar exploration, highlighting the difficulties and successes that come with exploring space while the space community impatiently anticipates SLIM’s reawakening.