Unlikely to survive, the vehicle survived the freezing cold of the Moon

How Japan's lunar rover defied death

2 mins read
Unlikely to survive, the vehicle survived the freezing cold of the Moon

The SLIM spacecraft, which the Japanese space agency JAXA recently sent to the Moon and managed to land “upside down”, signaled that it was alive again after a month.

It was thought that the spacecraft, which landed upside down on the Moon and therefore could not get enough light from its solar panels, would probably not be able to withstand the cold during the 2-week-long “lunar night”. JAXA announced that a signal was sent to SLIM on February 25 and a response was received from the spacecraft. The fact that the electronics were working in an environment where the surface temperature reached 100°C was also met with surprise.

However, due to the surface temperature, the vehicle, which could only communicate for a short time, was put back into sleep mode.

There are new photos

Apart from surviving the night, the lander is still continuing its scientific work. The new photos sent by the lander show a region not seen in the previous ones. The photos were taken with SLIM’s navigation camera, and the team will not communicate with the lander again until temperatures in the region reach safer levels.

How Japan's lunar rover defied death
The SLIM lander was awakened from its slumber and sent back these photos from Shioli crater on February 26. Photo: JAXA

It has been 39 days since SLIM landed upside down in an area on the rim of the Shioli crater due to engine failure. Although the craft was temporarily shut down immediately after landing, it was woken up again about 10 days later (January 29) and continued to operate for several days until February 1.

During this time, JAXA used the Multi-Band Camera (MBC) to search for olivine and other minerals. It was also able to send photos of the surrounding rocks back to Earth.

The fact that SLIM survived the lunar night, which reached temperatures of -130°C and lasted about 14.5 Earth days, is considered a great achievement for the engineers. It is also worth noting that the vehicle successfully completed its main and additional missions.


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