Japan’s history-making lunar lander has landed upside down on the moon

A new image released by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows why the country’s first lunar lander had trouble generating electricity. The damaged Japanese spacecraft has landed on its nose despite making the most accurate landing in lunar history.

The Smart Lunar Exploration Rover, or “Slim” for short, reached the lunar surface last Friday, making Japan the fifth country to land on Earth’s moon. However, the spacecraft shut down three hours after reaching its destination due to an unknown defect in its solar cells.

Now, a newly submitted image from Sora-Q, the tiny robot ejected from the Slim during the rover’s descent, reveals the source of the problem: sunlight is not reaching the spacecraft’s solar cells; Because Slim is overturned by 90 degrees compared to the designed landing position.

Jaksa in a statement that Thursday Published in X, wrote: “An anomaly in the main engine affected the landing position of the spacecraft and caused the solar panels to be unable to charge at this time. “Data was successfully downloaded and the multi-band imaging camera was tested before power was cut for battery storage.”

The Japan Space Agency has linked the accident to the failure of one of Slim’s two main engines during landing. This defect caused the spacecraft to overturn on its nose.

Despite the accident, the Japanese moon landing is a remarkable achievement. This spacecraft, which was designed to demonstrate the most advanced precision landing technologies, landed within a hundred meters of its landing site on the moon. In comparison, the size of the landing areas determined for the previous moon landings was 10 km.

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JAXA is the fifth government space agency to perform a soft landing on the Moon, after the United States, the former Soviet Union, China and India. Slim landed on the edge of the Shiuli Crater, a small hole in a larger crater called Cyrillus in the near-equatorial region of the Moon.

Sora-Q relied on the Lunar Rover 1 (LEV-1), which is equipped with an additional antenna and camera, to transmit images of the landing environment to mission control on Earth, along with a second aboard Slim. After processing and recording the images independently, Sora-Kyo sent them to Earth via LEV-1.

Although Slim may have turned off, he hasn’t fallen into a deep sleep yet. JAXA representatives say they hope to potentially bring their spacecraft back to life by changing the angle of sunlight in the lunar position.

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