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Updated January 19th, 2024 at 21:34 IST

Did Japan just land on the Moon? All eyes on confirmation from JAXA

Japan's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) seems to have made a safe touchdown near the Shioli crater on the near side of the Moon on January 19.

Harsh Vardhan
SLIM
Artist's impression of SLIM on the Moon. | Image:JAXA
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Japan might have became the fifth country to make a soft-landing on the Moon. It seems like the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) has made a safe touchdown near the Shioli crater on the near side of the Moon on January 19. The descent process started around 8:30 pm IST and based on the telemetry data, the landing was announced at 8:51 pm. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), however, is confirming the status of the lander on the lunar surface. 

About 2 metres above the lunar surface, SLIM released two mini rovers to study the characteristics of the Moon. The data also revealed that the lander had about 43.7 kg of fuel left at the time of the touchdown. If successful, Japan will become the fifth nation to make a soft-landing on the Moon after the USSR, the US, China and India. 

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SLIM's landing location. Image: NASA

 

The Shioli crater. Image: NASA


The lander autonomously navigated its way to the Shioli crater using a map made using data from Japan's Kaguya orbiter which was launched in 2007.

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The mission's objectives were to demonstrate "the accurate lunar landing techniques embodied in a small explorer" and to accelerate the "study of the moon and other planets using the lighter exploration system."

The lander was launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) aboard the H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima spaceport and it entered the Moon's orbit on December 25. The lander and the two rovers are designed to work for one lunar day or 14 Earth days similar to ISRO's Chandrayaan 3 which landed near the South Pole on August 23. 

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Published January 19th, 2024 at 21:31 IST

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