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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - TOKYO — Japan's Moon lander ended up on its nose when it made its historic touchdown on the lunar surface.
The first picture of the stricken Slim spacecraft shows it rotated 90 degrees from how it should have come to rest.
This will go some way to explaining the difficulties it has had in generating the electricity needed to operate.
The image was captured by the small baseball-sized robot called Sora-Q that was ejected from Slim moments before touchdown last Friday.
"An abnormality in the main engine affected the landing attitude of the spacecraft," the Japanese space agency Jaxa said.
To get the picture to Earth, Sora-Q first had to transmit it to a second roving robot, Lunar Excursion Vehicle 1, or Lev-1. This hopping vehicle has radio equipment that can contact mission control independently of Slim.
The lander itself was shut down three hours after arrival because it could not get its solar cells to work. With the battery rapidly draining, Jaxa officials took the decision to hibernate Slim.
Their assumption — which seems to be borne out by the Sora-Q image — is that the main spacecraft is orientated in a way that prevents the solar cells from seeing the Sun.
The hope is to wake Slim when lighting angles change at its landing location.
Before hibernation, controllers were able to pull down a series of pictures of the surface taken by its on-board infrared camera.
These show the spacecraft to be on a slope, surrounded by small rocks.
Slim's landing location is at the edge of an equatorial crater known as Shioli.
The landing on Saturday at 00:20, Japan standard time (15:20 GMT) made Jaxa only the fifth national space agency to achieve a soft touchdown on the Moon — after the US, the former Soviet Union, China and India. — BBC
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