Japanese Moon Lander Sends Back Data, Power Issues Continue

Despite the Japanese moon craft SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) making a successful landing on the lunar surface on Saturday, near the Shioli Crater, problems have arose with the solar cells that threaten to abort the mission. While data was sent back that verified landing precision data, according to Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), it could take a month to further verify where the landing exactly took place and whether or not it was close to the target.

After SLIM’s landing, Japan has become the fifth country to successfully land a craft on the lunar surface; this came after India recently took the fourth spot in July 2023.

After the solar cells failed to generate power following the establishment of communication with Earth, JAXA decided to switch off the unit’s power after it dropped to 12%. The solar cells facing west and not east, as they were intended to collect sunlight, are thought to be the reason for at least that issue. Officials have said there is hope that if the sunlight comes in from a westerly angle, it could restore power. JAXA is to hold a news conference Thursday to give more details.

Shioli Crater, south of the equator of the moon, NASA/LRO.
Shioli Crater, south of the equator of the moon, NASA/LRO.