Japan’s “Moon Sniper” robotic explorer resumed operation after a power issue forced the spacecraft to shut down 10 days ago, Japan space agency said on Monday, January 29.
Just after 10:20 a.m., the explorer made an accurate landing. Japan became the fifth nation in history to land a spacecraft successfully on the moon on January 19, 12:20 a.m. Japan Standard Time. However, a serious problem arose almost immediately.
According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), one of the spacecraft’s engines failed during landing, causing it to land facing the wrong way and forcing it to rely only on battery power because its solar cells were unable to produce electricity.
The agency said the lunar explorer would be automatically restarted if its solar panel started generating electricity as the sun’s angle changed, but instead turned it off to preserve its battery.
New pictures of the lunar surface have also been taken by the explorer and sent back to the mission crew on Earth.
Previously, the mission team assembled 257 photos taken immediately upon landing by SLIM to produce a mosaic that displayed the landing scene. Members of the team also gave rocks of interest nicknames, selecting titles that matched their approximations of their sizes.
The lander is intended to observe rocks that may provide light on the moon’s origins for a brief period of time. A new photo released by the agency on Monday shows a close-up of the rock known as “Toy Poodle.”
Meanwhile, other nations attempting to reach the moon include South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, China, and Russia.
This month’s launch of the Peregrine lunar lander by American company Astrobotic resulted in fuel leaks, which ended the project.
The spacecraft probably burned up in Earth’s atmosphere on return, and contact was lost over a distant region of the South Pacific.
Plans for crewed lunar flights under NASA’s Artemis program have also been delayed.
Japan has attempted two unsuccessful private and one public lunar missions in the past.
As part of the US Artemis 1 mission, the nation sent the Omotenashi lunar probe in 2022, although it was an unsuccessful mission.
Japanese startup ispace made a fruitless attempt to land on the moon in April, losing contact with its ship following what it called a “hard landing.”
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