JAXA’s Moon Lander Mission Faces Challenges, But Still Deemed a Success
The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) recently shared what could potentially be the last photograph captured by its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission. Unfortunately, the mission encountered a setback when it landed upside down on the lunar surface on January 19. As a result, the lander’s limited functionality was attributed to its solar cells not being properly aligned with the Sun.
Despite this setback, JAXA remains optimistic as it plans to analyze numerous images from a region of the Moon that is not well understood. While it is uncertain whether the spacecraft will endure temperatures of over -200 degrees Fahrenheit during the lunar night lasting more than two weeks, the agency considers the mission a success thus far.
JAXA’s primary objective with the SLIM mission is to identify rocks, estimate the chemical composition of minerals, and unravel the mystery surrounding the Moon’s origin. By analyzing the data obtained, scientists hope to gain a deeper understanding of the lunar surface.
With this achievement, Japan joins the ranks of the five countries to successfully land on the Moon. Previous attempts by Astrobotics and ispace, inc. unfortunately ended in failure. Japan’s success highlights their commitment to space exploration and showcases their advancements in technology.
Meanwhile, NASA’s planned crewed landing, known as the Artemis mission, has encountered significant delays. Initially projected to take place in the early 2020s, the mission’s timeline has been pushed back to at least 2026 or 2027 due to developmental challenges. This setback emphasizes the complex nature of exploring the Moon and the unforeseen obstacles that space agencies encounter along the way.
Looking ahead, NASA is set to launch its next rover mission in November. The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover aims to explore the lunar South Pole and gather vital data on the distribution of water on the Moon. This information is crucial for potential future human space exploration and the utilization of lunar resources.
As JAXA continues to analyze the images obtained by the SLIM mission, scientists hope to uncover valuable insights about the Moon’s geology and origin. Despite the challenges faced, the mission serves as an important stepping stone in humanity’s quest to understand our celestial neighbor.
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