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Japan says its lunar lander has enough power to do some of its work

On Monday JAXA said it had reestablished contact with its lunar probe after a rough landing.
This image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency shows its SLIM lander on the moon
Posted at 5:34 PM, Jan 29, 2024

A Japanese probe has started work on the moon after a rough landing cast doubt on whether it would be able to complete its mission.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, is an uncrewed probe from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. An engine failure forced the probe to make an unplanned upside-down landing on the lunar surface on Jan. 20. This meant its solar panels weren't positioned to gather power from sunlight.

JAXA used the probe's battery power to gather data about the landing, then shut it down to wait for better solar conditions.

On Monday JAXA said it had reestablished contact with the lander late on Sunday, and said it had enough power to continue some operations.


The probe is sending pictures of its landing site back to Earth, including one of a group of nearby rocks that it will analyze for clues about how the moon was formed.

All the rocks have been nicknamed for dog breeds — from toy poodle to St. Bernard — as a way of conveying relative size.

According to JAXA, SLIM may now have enough power to continue its work through Thursday. It remains to be seen if the probe will be able to resume work following the upcoming roughly two-week period of lunar night.

SLIM landed with two autonomous probes that were released just before it touched down, which have taken pictures of the lander.

Japan is the fifth nation to reach the lunar surface, joining the United States, the former Soviet Union, China and India. 

Japan becomes 5th country to reach the moon
Staff of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency watch a live streaming of the pinpoint moon landing.

Japan becomes 5th country to reach the moon

The spacecraft — given the moniker Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM — landed on the lunar surface.