The fifth country to land on the moon? What an Achievement. Japanese lunar probe “Lunar Sniper” is expected to land in a crater on the 20th

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Written By Rahul Chandak

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After two failed attempts to land on the moon, Japan is expected to challenge a “precision” landing mission on the lunar surface again on the 20th, hoping to find evidence of the moon’s origin. Once this mission is successful, Japan will become the fifth country to complete the moon landing.

Voice of America (VOA) reported that once Japan’s “Smart Lander for Investigating Moon” (SLIM) successfully lands softly on the lunar surface, it will become the fifth one to land on the moon after the United States, the Soviet Union, India and China. month country.

SLIM’s rolling detector, which is larger than a tennis ball and can change its shape to move on the lunar surface, was jointly developed by JAXA and Japanese toy manufacturer Takara Tomy.

The lightweight probe, dubbed the “moon sniper” by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is expected to begin landing at midnight Japan time on Saturday, and if everything goes well, it will complete the landing in 20 minutes.

The detector’s aiming position is within 100 meters of the expected landing site, which is much smaller than the landing range of several kilometers in the past. SLIM is expected to land on a crater on the moon, and it is understood that the surface of the crater can contact the moon’s mantle.

Tomokatsu Moroda, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo, said, “The rocks exposed here are crucial to finding the origin of the moon and the earth.” He said that although JAXA has completed precise landings on asteroids in the past, due to the greater gravity of the moon, it has become more difficult.

The altitude is high, and there is only one chance to land, so the pressure is not small. To make the lander land in the rocky area around it, precise control is crucial.

Japan hopes to use “sniper accuracy” technology to prove its visibility in space and provide important information about the moon’s past. In addition, we also hope to find clues about water resources on the moon so that we can promote the establishment of a base on the moon in the future.

The moon’s surface is desert-like, but water may exist in the polar regions where the terrain is rugged and sunlight is scarce. Tomokatsu Moroda said, “Whether the moon can be commercialized depends on whether there is water in the polar regions.”

More than 50 years have passed since humans landed on the moon. Many countries and private companies have been competing to launch plans to return to the moon, such as Russia , China, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

However, the shadow of machine crashes, communication abnormalities or other technical problems lingers. No, Japan has failed two moon landing missions in the past.

In 2022, the Japanese “Omotenashi” lunar probe mission launched by the United States’ Artemis 1 failed. In April last year, the probe of iSpace, a new Japanese private aerospace company, lost contact after a hard landing, preventing the company from becoming the first private company to successfully land on the moon.

Japan’s lunar probe power package JAXA self-assessment task “barely passed 60 points”:

Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) reported that Japan is the fifth country to successfully land on the lunar surface, following the former Soviet Union, the United States, China and India .

As for why the solar cells mounted on the small unmanned lunar probe SLIM were unable to generate electricity, JAXA determined that it may be related to the fact that the position of the solar photovoltaic panels during landing was different from the original plan.

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported that SLIM set an error range of 100 meters to achieve the goal of “precise landing” this time, but data analysis was required to confirm success, which was initially estimated to take about a month.

Director of the JAXA Space Science Institute, Kunaka Tsuyoshi, said at a press conference that because the orbit shown is consistent with the plan, he is confident that it will be able to successfully land “accurately.”

Mainichi Shimbun reported that SLIM’s battery will run out of power today, but the solar cells may resume operation in the future as long as sunlight reaches the solar photovoltaic panels.

Junior high schools all said that because this project also foresees the challenge of traveling to the moon, they are still looking forward to it.

SLIM successfully landed on the lunar surface early this morning, the first in Japan. At a press conference held at the JAXA Sagamihara Park in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, JAXA Chairman Hiroshi Yamakawa said: “The road to the lunar surface has been opened.”

However, due to an accident in which the solar cells failed to generate electricity, although Japan’s historical first was achieved, the smiles on the faces of the participants were relatively reduced. Junior high schools also strictly rated themselves as “barely passing 60 points.”

SLIM launched its final landing from about 15 kilometers above the lunar surface at around 0:00 today. Before reaching the lunar surface about 20 minutes later, more than 200,000 netizens at home and abroad watched JAXA’s live broadcast on the online audio and video platform simultaneously.

At a press conference at 2:10 a.m. local time in Japan, Junior High School emphasized that “the probe can correctly receive commands sent by the earth and can also respond. This is evidence of the success of the soft landing.”

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As for the world’s first “precision landing” advertised by this mission, Junior High School expressed confidence and said, “I personally think it has been successfully verified.” Yamakawa Hiroshi said that precise landing is an important technology for continued lunar exploration in the future and “will help Japan gain international competitiveness.”

When JAXA checked all the data after logging in to SLIM, they found that the solar cells on board were not working. Within a few hours of power provided by its own battery, it will give priority to transmitting images and data of the landing on the lunar surface back to the earth. 

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