The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) landed on the lunar surface on January 20, 2024 at 0:20 am JST, and communication was established with the Earth.

However, due to the spacecraft not being at the planned attitude upon landing, power generation was not possible from the solar cells, and the spacecraft was shutdown with a command from the ground at 2:57 am JST.

Analysis of the data acquired before shutting down the power confirmed that SLIM had reached the Moon’s surface approximately 55m east of the original target landing site. The positional accuracy before the commencement of the obstacle avoidance maneuver (at around a 50m altitude) which indicates the pinpoint landing performance, was evaluated to be at approximately 10m or less, possibly about 3 – 4m. While more detailed evaluation continues, it is reasonable to mention that the technology demonstration of pinpoint landing within an accuracy of 100m, which has been declared to be the main mission of SLIM, has been achieved.

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s space agency said Thursday that its first lunar mission hit the tiny patch of the moon’s surface it was aiming for, in a successful demonstration of its pinpoint landing system — although the probe appears to be lying upside-down.

Japan became the fifth country in history to reach the moon when the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, touched down on the Moon early on Saturday. But trouble with the probe’s solar batteries made it hard at first to figure whether the probe landed in the target zone.

While most previous probes have used landing zones about 10 kilometers (six miles) wide, SLIM was aiming at a target of just 100 meters (330 feet). Improved accuracy would give scientists access to more of the moon, since probes could be placed nearer to obstacles.

One of the lander’s main engines lost thrust about 50 meters (54 yards) above the moon surface, causing a harder landing than planned.

A pair of autonomous probes released by SLIM before touchtown sent back images of the box-shaped vehicle on the surface, although it appeared to be upside down.

After a few days of data analysis, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA determined that the spacecraft landed about 55 meters (60 yards) away from its target, in between two craters near the Shioli crater, a region covered in volcanic rock.

But after the landing mishap, the craft’s solar panels wound up facing the wrong direction, and it cannot generate power. Officials said there is still hope the probe will be able to recharge when the Moon enters its daytime in the coming days.

JAXA project manager Shinichiro Sakai said the images sent back were just like those he’d imagined and seen in computer renderings.

AP –