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“Moon Sniper”: The first pictures of the Japanese spacecraft after its successful landing on the surface of the moon, 55 meters from its target.

“Moon Sniper”: The first pictures of the Japanese spacecraft after its successful landing on the surface of the moon, 55 meters from its target.

The small Japanese spacecraft SLIM touched down on the moon's surface last Saturday, about 55 meters from its target. This is a very high degree of accuracy, the Japanese Aerospace Agency (JAXA) announced on Thursday. The machine is also nicknamed the “Moon Sniper” for its ability to land accurately.

Thus, the goal of landing this machine on the moon was achieved within a radius of 100 meters from the target point, compared to several kilometers in general for lunar missions. On Thursday, JAXA also published the first images of this moon landing, which represents an unprecedented achievement for Japan.

This monochrome image was taken using one of the instruments sent to the Moon with the module.

AFP/JAXA

This other image shows moon rocks with their aliases.

AFP/JAXA
AFP/JAXA

With this mission, Japan becomes the fifth country in the world to successfully land on Earth's natural satellite, after the United States, the Soviet Union (USSR), China and India.

Restart solar panels?

But the Japanese achievement comes with a serious downside. SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) had a problem with its solar panels. This forced the JAXA spacecraft to turn off its power supply less than three hours after landing on the moon in order to save its batteries for possible restart later.

JAXA believes it is possible for SLIM's solar panels to become operational again when the angle of the sun changes at the lunar landing site. SLIM is located in a small crater less than 300 meters in diameter, called Chiuli, and was able to land naturally with its two miniature vehicles, supposed to analyze rocks coming from the inner structure of the Moon (the lunar mantle), again very poorly known.

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