Shortly after Japan’s space agency became the fifth country to land a spacecraft on the surface of the moon, its scientists discovered the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) unfortunately touched down upside down. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said that the SLIM landed on the lunar surface on January 20 but it knew it might have bigger problems due to an issue with power generation. Just hours after making landfall, JAXA expected the power to run out, before it ultimately did.
SLIM met the moon’s surface about 55 meters east of the original target landing site, JAXA said. The agency did get all of the technical information related to its navigation prior to landing and ultimately becoming stationary on the lunar surface. JAXA captured photos of the SLIM from its The Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2, its fully autonomous robot currently exploring the moon.
The Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 (LEV-2 / SORA-Q) has successfully taken an image of the #SLIM spacecraft on the Moon. LEV-2 is the world’s first robot to conduct fully autonomous exploration on the lunar surface. https://t.co/NOboD0ZJIr pic.twitter.com/mfuuceu2WA
— JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (@ISAS_JAXA_EN) January 25, 2024
The reason behind the main engine malfunctioning is under investigation by the space agency. There is a slim chance for regeneration because the solar cells that power the spacecraft are facing west, meaning there is a chance for SLIM recovery if enough light from the sun reaches the cells as more time passes. The SLIM JAXA team took to X earlier this week to write, “We are preparing for recovery.” The agency said it will “take the necessary preparations to gather more technical and scientific data from the spacecraft.