Japan moon probe put to sleep again

Japan moon probe put to sleep again
Japan moon probe put to sleep again

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - This handout photo released on January 25, 2024 from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) and credited to Jaxa, Takara Tomy, Sony Group Corporation and Doshisha University shows an image of the lunar surface taken and transmitted by LEV-2 ‘SORA-Q’ the transformable lunar surface robot ‘SORA-Q’ (operation verification model), installed on the private company’s lunar module for the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission, after landing on the Moon on January 20. — AFP pic/JAXA/Takara Tomy/Sony Group Corporation/Doshisha University

TOKYO, April 1 — Japan’s valiant moon lander was put to sleep again after unexpectedly surviving its second ultra-chilly long lunar night, the space agency said today.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) — dubbed the “Moon Sniper” for its landing precision — touched down in January, making Japan only the fifth nation to achieve a soft lunar landing.

But the unmanned lightweight spacecraft, carrying a mini-rover that moves like a turtle, landed at a wonky angle that left its solar panels facing the wrong way.

Defying pessimistic predictions, the probe was revived in late February once the lunar night — which lasts about 14 Earth days — ended.

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Despite facing temperatures as low as -130 degrees Celsius, it repeated the feat last week and transmitted new images back to Earth.

On Monday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) announced the probe has been put back to sleep again on Sunday.

“During this operation, we mainly checked the status of several devices by turning on switches and applying loads,” Jaxa said on social media platform X.

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“Although there are some malfunctions in some functions of MBC, it still works, so we are carefully checking its status,” it said, referring to the Multi-band Camera used to examine lunar rocks.

Some types of rocks around the lunar craters are thought to contain material from its mantle, which could give clues on how the Moon was formed. — AFP

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