Science & Technology

Japan becomes the fifth country to land on the moon, mission’s future remains uncertain

Tokyo/Madrid, Jan 20 (EFE).- Japan’s SLIM robotic explorer pulled a soft landing on the moon on Friday, but the mission may be over prematurely as Japan’s space agency, Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), confirmed a power problem with the spacecraft’s solar cell.

The SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) landed on the lunar surface at 12:20 a.m. local time on Saturday, Jan. 20, JAXA confirmed in a live broadcast a few minutes later.

“SLIM has been communicating with the Earth station, and it is receiving commands from Earth accurately, and the spacecraft is responding in a normal way,” said Hitoshi Kuninaka, director general of Japan’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science.

Hours of waiting

SLIM managed to execute a gentle landing, yet it may require approximately a month to officially verify whether the lander reached its target site near the Shioli crater, just 100 meters south of the lunar equator.

Kuninaka clarified that the LEV-1 and LEV-2 vehicles, which were attached to the Lunar Module and separated from the matrix during the descent, successfully transmitted images of the lunar surface.

The result has a bittersweet taste for Japan, which had already made many unsuccessful attempts to land on the moon and is seeking to expand its presence and competitiveness in the global aerospace landscape.

Countries that have landed on the moon

To date, only the United States, Russia, China, and India have successfully landed on the Earth’s satellite.

Although the Soviet Union was the first to reach the moon, Americans Neil Armstrong and Edwin Eugene Aldrin were the first to walk on the lunar surface in 1969. EFE


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