Tokyo, Nov 16 (EFE).- Japan launched Wednesday the world’s smallest Moon lander, OMOTENASHI, on board the Artemis I mission rocket that took off from the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States.
At 11 centimeters long, 24 cm wide, and 37 cm high, OMOTENASHI is one of the ten CubeSat nanosatellites on the unmanned Artemis I mission.
These nanosatellites will conduct different scientific investigations, as a part of the mission that aims to pave the way for a future lunar base for astronauts.
OMOTENASHI could become Japan’s first Moon lander to touch the surface of the Moon, which is expected to happen in four or five days, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
OMOTENASHI will land on the Moon at a speed of 180 kilometers per hour, protected by shock absorbers, JAXA said.
Scientists behind the project believe there is a 60 percent chance of the device being able to successfully transmit radio waves to Earth from the Moon.
On Artemis I, OMOTENASHI – acronym for Outstanding MOon exploration TEchnologies demonstrated by NAno Semi-Hard Impactor – was accompanied by another Japanese nanosatellite, EQUULEUS (EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft), which is expected to move towards the far side of the Moon.
This project also 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.
JAXA has been looking into an efficient way of reaching this orbital point, which could become an optimal base for advanced space missions.
The take off of the Artemis I on Wednesday came after four attempts were postponed since August due to bad weather and technical reasons.
This is the first mission of the Artemis program seeking to establish a human base on the Moon in an attempt to reach Mars.
NASA’s last mission in which its astronauts stepped on the Moon was Apollo 17, which carried out the mission December 1972.
NASA wanted to test the abilities of the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft, which will orbit the Moon, before the first manned Moon mission in 50 years. EFE