"Communication with SLIM was successfully established last night, and operations resumed!"
Japan's Moon lander has officially been resurrected after landing at an extremely awkward angle on the lunar surface earlier this month.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) spacecraft basically fell on its nose after touching down ten days ago.
That meant teams back on the ground were forced to put the lander into hibernation mode just hours after landing, since its solar panels were pointing in the wrong direction and unable to recharge its batteries.
But now, thanks to the shifting orientation of the Sun's rays, the solar panels have started charging the dormant spacecraft's batteries — in spite of its unfortunate landing position.
"Communication with SLIM was successfully established last night, and operations resumed!" JAXA tweeted over the weekend. "Science observations were immediately started with the MBC, and we obtained first light for the 10-band observation."
Communication with SLIM was successfully established last night, and operations resumed! Science observations were immediately started with the MBC, and we obtained first light for the 10-band observation. This figure shows the “toy poodle” observed in the multi-band observation. pic.twitter.com/WYD4NlYDaG
— 小型月着陸実証機SLIM (@SLIM_JAXA) January 29, 2024
In its first image taken after jumping back to life, SLIM captured a picture of the "toy poodle," a nickname scientists gave to a nearby Moon rock.
Despite its awkward landing, SLIM has already been a huge success in the sense that it made Japan the fifth country in the world to successfully land a humanmade object on the surface of the Moon.
For one, the "Moon Sniper" spacecraft made an "unprecedented pinpoint landing," having touched down within just 180 feet of its targeted touchdown location.
It also successfully released two small robots during its descent, dubbed LEV-1 and LEV-2, which have been autonomously roaming the nearby landscape ever since. One of them even took the time to snap a picture of SLIM, thereby confirming its embarrassing landing orientation.
So what's next? Scientists are still hoping to have the spacecraft analyze the composition of other rocks near it to gain new insights into the origin of the Moon.
"We will prioritize what we can do now — observing and collecting information — rather than adjusting SLIM's position since adjusting the position could lead to a worse situation," a JAXA spokesperson told Agence France-Presse.
And time is running out.
"The daytime (where SLIM is on the Moon) will last until around the end of January and it will be at night from around February," the spokesperson added.
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