• If it is approved, the agency will reportedly use its Epsilon solid-fuel rocket technology to carry and deploy a SLIM probe -- the acronym stands for "Smart Lander for Investigating Moon" -- on the surface of the celestial body. Japanese media estimates that the mission will cost in the region of ¥10 billion to ¥15 billion ($83.4 million - $125 million).
  • The mission is expected to be used to perfect soft-landing technologies, which could be utilized in future, manned expeditions to the moon, or even Mars. The lander will also use face recognition software found in digital cameras to recognize craters on the surface.
  • The move could be seen as Japan's attempt to play catchup to its Asian neighbors China and India, which have both notched significant extraterrestrial victories in recent years.

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