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Japan’s Moon lander goes into what may be its final sleep as Sun sets

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Japan's Moon lander goes into what may be its final sleep as Sun sets

Japan’s SLIM Moon lander has gone back into sleep mode as the Sun sets on its landing site. The robotic spacecraft began to lose power as the lunar day came to its end and it now faces the freezing cold 14-day lunar night, which it may not survive.

Though it only came back online a few days ago, the clock was already running against the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM). When it touched down at Mare Nectaris, south of the Theophilus crater, on January 19, 2024, it bounced and landed on its nose. This placed the solar panel in the wrong direction, preventing the battery from charging.

On January 29, the Sun had moved into a position where it could shine on the panel, allowing it to spring back to fully operational status. Unfortunately, it was also very late in the lunar day because SLIM’s panel was facing west. This meant that the spacecraft’s new lease on life was only a short one.

JAXA is taking an optimistic stance, the space agency saying that it hopes SLIM will revive after the next lunar dawn in mid-February. However, the lander doesn’t have a warming system and the long night when the temperatures drop to -208 °F (-130 °C) is dark and cold enough to damage the craft’s battery and electronics beyond repair. Time will tell.

Source: JAXA



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