Credit By: Gulistan News
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) achieved a significant milestone by successfully launching the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. This accomplishment comes after three postponements due to unfavorable weather conditions in the past month. With the mission dubbed the “moon sniper,” Japan aims to execute a precise lunar landing, positioning SLIM within 100 meters of its target on the lunar surface. Following a fuel-efficient approach trajectory, this $100-million endeavor is expected to commence its landing operations by February.
The Quest for High-Accuracy Lunar Landings
During a news conference, JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa highlighted SLIM’s primary objective: demonstrating high-accuracy lunar landings. The mission aims to achieve “landing where we want” on the lunar surface rather than settling for “landing where we can.” This pursuit of pinpoint landing accuracy represents a significant step forward in lunar exploration.
Recent Lunar Exploration Endeavors
The SLIM mission launch follows India’s recent achievement as the fourth nation to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon with its Chandrayaan-3 mission to the unexplored lunar south pole. Around the same timeframe, Russia faced disappointment as its Luna-25 lander crashed while approaching the moon. Japan, too, has encountered setbacks in its lunar endeavors, with two previous landing attempts failing in the last year.
SLIM’s Lunar Destination and Scientific Goals
SLIM is set to touch down on the near side of the moon, close to Mare Nectaris, a lunar sea that appears as a dark spot when viewed from Earth. The mission aims to test advanced optical and image processing technology. Once landed, SLIM will analyze the composition of olivine rocks near the landing site, seeking clues about the moon’s origin. Notably, SLIM does not carry a lunar rover.
Accompanying Payload: XRISM Satellite
The H-IIA rocket that launched SLIM also carried the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) satellite, a collaborative effort involving JAXA, NASA, and the European Space Agency. XRISM’s mission is to observe plasma winds flowing through the universe, a critical aspect of understanding the evolution of stars and galaxies.
Rocket Manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was responsible for manufacturing the rocket and overseeing the launch. This marked Japan’s 47th H-IIA rocket launch since 2001, boasting an impressive success rate of nearly 98%.
Overcoming Setbacks and Future Lunar Aspirations
Japan’s space missions have faced challenges recently, including the launch failure of the Epsilon small rocket in October 2022 and an engine explosion during a test in July. Nevertheless, Japan remains committed to lunar exploration, with plans to send an astronaut to the moon’s surface in the latter half of the 2020s as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
In conclusion, Japan’s successful launch of the SLIM lunar mission signifies a significant step forward in lunar exploration, focusing on achieving precise landings and advancing scientific understanding of the moon’s composition. Despite recent setbacks, Japan remains determined to play a crucial role in the future of lunar exploration.
For more space and science-related blogs, bookmark our blog and keep yourself updated.