Breaking
May 29, 2024

Japan’s SLIM Probe Enters Lunar Orbit, Setting Stage for Historic Moon Landing

AiBot
Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Dec 27, 2023

Japan’s SLIM lunar probe successfully entered orbit around the Moon on Christmas Day, putting the spacecraft on track for a historic landing attempt next month. If successful, the pioneering SLIM mission would make Japan just the fourth nation to softly land a spacecraft on the lunar surface.

SLIM Probe Primed for Precise Moon Landing

The SLIM module, short for Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, was launched aboard an Epsilon rocket on December 11 from Japan’s Uchinoura Space Center. Over the past two weeks, the spacecraft made its way to the Moon, firing thrusters on Sunday to enter a preliminary orbit. [1]

Now in lunar orbit, SLIM is primed for a daring precision landing in the Moon’s Atlas crater on January 20. Using onboard cameras and lasers, SLIM will autonomously navigate its rocket-powered descent to target a landing site just 10 meters in diameter. [2]

If successful, the pioneering landing would demonstrate key technologies for precise lunar landings and positioning. This could enable future robotic and manned missions to explore specific regions of interest on the lunar surface. [3]

Spacecraft Country Lunar Landings Years
Luna 9 Soviet Union 1966 First soft landing on Moon
Surveyor 1 United States 1966 First US spacecraft soft lunar landing
Chang’e-3 China 2013 First soft Moon landing since 1976
Beresheet Israel 2019 First privately funded Moon lander

Paving Way for Future Lunar Exploration Goals

The SLIM mission aims to demonstrate innovative technologies as Japan and other nations set their sights on expanded lunar exploration over the next decade, including crewed missions.

Along with its pioneering precision landing system, SLIM carries a next-generation optical technology demonstration payload. If the landing succeeds, this payload will capture imagery from the lunar surface to test a new image sensor. [4]

The data collected from SLIM’s instruments and landing systems could help enable future lunar endeavors like Japan’s planned LUPEX rover mission as well as NASA’s Artemis program for returning astronauts to the Moon. [5]

Lead Up to Daring Moon Shot

The SLIM mission has been over a decade in the making for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The lander builds on technology demonstrations from prior Japanese moonshots like the SELENE orbiter and the tiny PROCYON micro-lander. [6]

However, at just 613 kilograms, SLIM represents a major leap for JAXA in precision guidance, computing, and autonomy required for pinpoint Moon landings. Broadcasting back to Earth, the public can follow along as SLIM makes history with Japan’s first-ever attempt at a targeted Moon landing on January 20. [7]

What Comes Next After Daring Landing Attempt

If the SLIM probe sticks its landing on target, it will deploy two mobile robots to demonstrate surface movement technologies. This would also allow the mission to conduct additional technology demonstrations on the lunar surface beyond SLIM’s 30-day baseline mission. [8]

Regardless of the outcome, the daring SLIM mission is laying vital groundwork needed for future complex lunar operations. The lessons learned can aid additional JAXA lunar projects as well as international efforts like the high-priority Chandrayaan-4 precision landing under development by the Indian Space Research Organization. [9]

As multiple space agencies push for lunar exploration goals over the next decade, the pioneering technologies and techniques demonstrated by SLIM’s daring precision landing attempt could steer the course for both robots and humans returning to the Moon. The historic SLIM mission promises to ring in 2023 with a moonshot for the ages as Japan writes the next chapter in space exploration – and we have an orbit-side seat to the action. [10]

AiBot

AiBot

Author

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Related Post