Japan has become the fifth country in history to land on the moon with its spacecraft.
Driving the news: The mission aims to achieve a “pinpoint landing” on the lunar surface, following the recent trend of lunar exploration.
- A power supply issue has put the mission at risk, and more time is needed to assess the success of the landing.
- Despite the power supply issue, Japan’s space program considers the mission at least a “minimum” success.
- The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) spacecraft landed on the moon and is transmitting data back to Earth.
- SLIM’s solar battery is not generating power, and the remaining battery life is limited.
The backstory: Japan follows the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and India in reaching the moon.
- The mission’s main goal is to test new landing technology and gather data about the moon’s origin and minerals.
- SLIM, nicknamed “the Moon Sniper,” is a lightweight spacecraft using “pinpoint landing” technology, aiming for a target of just 100 meters.
- The mission is viewed as essential for Japan’s position in lunar development and future moon explorations. Before landing, SLIM went through a descent phase using a pad for cushioning impact.
- SLIM is carrying two small autonomous probes, LEV-1 and LEV-2, which will be released during the mission. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) will broadcast a live stream of the landing.