Japan’s SLIM Moon Probe Unexpectedly Survives Lunar Night

Japan’s SLIM Moon Probe Unexpectedly Survives Lunar Night

Japan’s SLIM moon probe has defied expectations by surviving the frigid lunar night and re-establishing communication with Earth, over a month after its historic touchdown on the moon’s surface. The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) achieved its pinpoint landing last month, marking Japan as the fifth nation to land a probe on the moon.

Initially, SLIM faced power depletion due to a tipped-over position, rendering its solar panels ineffective. However, a shift in the angle of the sun brought the panels back to life, marking an important achievement considering SLIM’s initial lack of ability for the challenging conditions of the lunar night. The fact that SLIM had to reboot after spending the lunar night highlights the technological difficulties of maintaining long-term missions on the moon, particularly concerning temperature swings.

Despite SLIM’s close landing on the equator, communication failures during lunar midday necessitated operational pauses while equipment cooled. Japan’s successful moon landing solidifies its place in the select countries capable of soft lunar landings.

Similarly, Odysseus, a private lunar exploration project by U.S.-based Intuitive Machines, is still in operation after a risky landing. The fact that comprehensive surface photography from both missions is still awaited highlights the continuous investigation of Earth’s planetary neighbour.