Science & Technology

Communication with Japan’s Moon lander unstable, space agency says

Tokyo, Nov 17 (EFE).- The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said Thursday that it has not been able to establish stable communication with the small Moon lander launched on Wednesday as a part of mission Artemis I.

At 11 centimeters long, 24 cm wide, and 37 cm high, OMOTENASHI, the smallest unit of its kind in the world, is expected to be Japan’s first probe to land on the Moon and transmit radio signals from there.

JAXA disclosed the first tracking information of the Moon lander on Thursday, revealing that the probe separated correctly but the CubeSat that transported it is yet to complete the necessary orbital control operations, thus rendering the communication unstable.

The CubeSat could be facing problems in turning towards the Sun and obtaining the required solar energy, and entering the desired orbit to head towards the moon.

It was expected to touch the surface of the Moon within four to five days of launch, if all goes according to plan.

In a brief statement, the organization mentioned that it is continuing operations to stabilize the CubeSat, ensure energy supply and establish communication with the probe.

Besides OMOTENASHI, JAXA launched another probe aboard Artemis I, a nanosatellite called EQUULEUS, with the objective of exploring the far side of the Moon.

JAXA said that EQUULEUS separated from the vehicle on Nov. 16 and was functioning normally hours later.

Both Japanese probes are heading towards the Moon after separating from the SLS rocket that was launched alongside the unmanned American spacecraft Orion from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, on Wednesday.

Japan’s space agency estimates the probability of the mission being successful to be around 60 percent.

EQUULEUS seeks to map the Earth’s plasmasphere to understand the area affected by radiation between the planet and its natural satellite.

This would help gain important information that may help protect humans and machines from solar radiation during space trips.

Ten CubeSat nanosatellites with distinct aims of investigation were launched into space as part of mission Artemis I, hoping to pave the way for humans to return to the Moon. EFE


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