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Japan's space agency JAXA has confirmed that the SLIM spacecraft is upside down on the moon

Japan's space agency JAXA has confirmed that the SLIM spacecraft is upside down on the moon
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Last Saturday, Japan reached a space milestone, landing softly on the Moon for the first time in its history, becoming only the fifth country to do so. However, shortly after the landing, the Japanese space agency JAXA confirmed that the SLIM spacecraft had encountered problems with its solar panels, so the mission would not be able to continue as planned. The team powered down the lander to preserve the remaining battery charge while they consider their next steps.

Now JAXA has reported that the spacecraft is upside down on the surface of the Moon, and this unfortunate result was likely caused by unstable landing after one of the SLIM engines failed during its final descent. JAXA shared an image of the spacecraft from the Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 (LEV-2), an autonomous palm-sized spacecraft that was successfully deployed. The Japanese SLIM lunar lander is upside down on the Moon. The image contains missing data in the center.

Data collected before SLIM shutdown confirmed that the spacecraft landed about 55 meters east of the originally planned landing site, according to Digital Trends.

The landing technology of SLIM proved to be much better than that used in previous missions aiming to land in areas several kilometers wide. The SLIM system could play a crucial role in future lunar missions, especially those planning to land on rough terrain closer to areas believed to contain deposits of water ice—a resource that could be converted into rocket fuel for launches from the Moon to Mars and beyond.

A positive development for the mission team is that the Japanese space agency now understands that the SLIM solar panels are facing west, indicating the possibility of generating power and therefore returning the lander when the sun shines in that direction in the coming days.

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