Japan became the fifth country in history to reach the moon when its spacecraft landed on the lunar surface early Saturday, officials said. But the power problem means the mission could be compromised.
Officials also said they needed more time to determine whether the spacecraft, which was not carrying astronauts, had achieved an accurate landing on the moon's surface, a priority for this mission.
Hitoshi Kuninaka, director of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences, said that it is believed that the spacecraft were launched from the spacecraft and that the data was transmitted to Earth from the “SLIM” (“SLIM”). Intelligent lander for lunar exploration “).
But he said the SLIM's solar battery does not produce electricity and that the ship's battery life will only last a few hours longer. He said the priority now is for the vehicle to collect as much lunar data as possible from the remaining battery.
Therefore, Japan follows the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India in its quest to reach the moon.
Mr. Kuninaka believes Japan's space program has achieved at least “minimal” success.
The SLIM rover landed on the moon's surface on Saturday at around 12:20 a.m. Tokyo time.
It's been a long wait for news after JAXA's mission control initially said SLIM was on the moon's surface, but was still checking its “condition.” No further details were revealed until a press conference approximately two hours later.
For the mission to be considered a complete success, agency officials must confirm whether SLIM made a “precision landing on the lunar surface.” Mr. Kuninaka said that even if more time was needed, he personally believed that such an accurate landing on the moon's surface had likely been achieved, based on his observation of data showing the movement of the spacecraft until landing.
SLIM, which targets a very small target, is a lightweight spacecraft about the size of a passenger car. It used “precision landing” technology, which promised much greater control than any previous landing on the moon's surface.
While most previous probes used landing zones about 10 kilometers wide, SLIM aimed at a target only 100 meters away. This project is the culmination of two decades of JAXA's work in the field of nanotechnology.
As the spacecraft descended, JAXA mission control reported that everything was going according to plan, and later announced that SLIM “was on the surface of the moon.” But it has not been clear since then whether the moon landing was successful.
“Precision landing on the moon” technology.
SLIM began its descent at midnight on Saturday, and within 15 minutes it was about 10 kilometers above the moon's surface, according to the space agency.
At an altitude of five kilometers, the lander was in a vertical landing position, and then at an altitude of 50 metres, the SLIM was supposed to make a parallel move to find a safe landing point, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. About 30 minutes after it supposedly landed on the moon's surface, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said it was still checking the vehicle's condition.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the mission's main goal was to test new landing technology that would allow lunar missions to land “where we want them, not where it is easier to do so.” If the landing is successful, the spacecraft will search for clues about the Moon's origin, including analyzing minerals with a special camera.
The SLIM rocket, equipped with a cushion to cushion the impact, was scheduled to land near Shiuli Crater, near an area covered in volcanic rock.
The closely watched mission took place just 10 days after a lunar mission led by a private US company failed, when the spacecraft suffered a fuel leak hours after the rocket was launched.
SLIM was launched on a Mitsubishi “Heavy H2A” rocket in September. The spacecraft first orbited the Earth and entered lunar orbit on December 25.
Japan hopes that success will allow it to regain confidence in its space technology after several failures. A spacecraft designed by a Japanese company crashed during a lunar landing attempt in April, and a new flagship rocket failed in its first launch in March.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has a good record of “hard landings.” The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, launched in 2014, twice landed on the 900-meter-long asteroid Ryugu and collected samples that were returned to Earth.
SLIM carries two small, independent probes: the rovers LEV-1 and LEV-2, which were scheduled to be launched just before the spacecraft landed. LEV-1, equipped with an antenna and camera, was scheduled to record the SLIM landing on the lunar surface. Meanwhile, LEV-2 is a ball-shaped rover, equipped with two cameras, designed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in collaboration with Sony, toy manufacturer Tomy and Doshisha University.
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