A NASA orbiter spotted the Japanese SLIM lander on the moon's surface after its historic landing.
SLIM, or Smart Lander for Lunar Exploration, is operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The vehicle landed on the moon in a precise landing on January 19, making Japan the fifth country to make a soft landing on the moon after India, China, the United States, and Russia (then the Soviet Union).
From its orbit 50 miles (80 km) above the lunar surface, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was able to see SLIM resting at its landing site. “The bright lines on the left side of the image are rocky material ejected from the nearby, relatively young, Cheoli Crater,” NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, which manages the LRO, wrote in an article. statement.
Related: The Japanese SLIM lunar lander is photographed on the surface of the Moon – on its nose (photo)
NASA images show the SLIM landing site before and after the rover touched down. One of the images, shown below, is a composite image that removes similar features in both the before and after landing images. This, in turn, allows us to see changes in reflectance on the moon's surface, caused by the lander's engine exhaust.
SLIM achieved its primary goal of landing at a chosen location with near pinpoint accuracy, landing 328 feet (100 m) from its target although it was turned upside down due to an engine failure during landing.
Because of its orientation, SLIM is unable to use solar panels to generate electricity, meaning the probe relies entirely on its battery. On Monday (January 21), the lander's battery power dropped to 12%, triggering a power outage “to avoid inability to restart the recovery process due to over-discharge,” SLIM team members said. mentioned in x.
However, JAXA scientists hope that if sunlight shines on the lander from the lunar west, SLIM's solar panels may be able to absorb enough sunlight to generate power and recover.
However, it's not all bad news. In addition to stabilizing the landing, SLIM was able to deploy two small rovers that carried them to the Moon, called EV-1 (“Lunar Excursion Vehicle” 1) and LEV-2. Both worked as planned, and the ball-like LEV-2 even managed to snap a photo of its upside-down host.
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