Japanese lunar probe comes back to life APA Science

Japanese lunar probe comes back to life APA Science

The Japanese “SLIM” probe that landed on the Moon went into operation after days of power outages. As the Japanese space agency Jaxa announced on Monday, solar panels are now apparently producing electricity. “SLIM” (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) landed on the lunar surface on January 20, Japan time. However, the solar panels on the craft, which was only 2.4 meters tall, no longer provided electricity after landing.

They were oriented towards the west and therefore away from the sun. The probe initially ran on battery power before being turned off. “Communication with SLIM was successfully established last night and operations have resumed!”, said Jaxa on the X platform (formerly Twitter). The probe is now also exploring the lunar surface and has successfully sent photos of rocks to Earth, including one called “Toy Poodle,” she said.

Jaxa assumes that despite their strange orientation, the solar panels can produce electricity as soon as sunlight from the west side of the moon hits them.

After the former Soviet Union, the USA, China and India, Japan is the fifth country to achieve a soft landing on Earth's satellite. “SLIM” blasted off to the Moon aboard an H2A carrier rocket from Japan’s Tanegashima spaceport in September. Jaxa was satisfied with the project despite initial problems with the energy supply. During the Moon landing, an unprecedented precision of less than ten meters was achieved. It was said that “SLIM” may have landed only about three to four meters from its destination.

“SLIM” landed as planned near Shioli Crater, in a low-lying area known as the “Nectar Sea.” The Japanese space agency hopes that the successful precision landing of “SLIM” will usher in the transition from an era of “land where we can” to an era of “land where we want.”

The data obtained will be used in planning future lunar missions, for example, as part of the US-led “Artemis” program. NASA wants to land people on the Moon again after more than 50 years – however, the “Artemis 3” lunar landing mission was recently postponed until September 2026.