Christmas brought a nice accomplishment for Japan’s SLIM space probe, which entered the Moon’s orbit on Monday, December 25. Smart Lander for Exploring Moon (SLIM), also known as the Moon Sniper , was built to be able to land in a small area of 100 metres. The SLIM probe is on track to touch down next month, if things continue as they are.
If the lunar probe is successful in its touchdown, it will make Japan only the fifth country to have landed a spacecraft on the Moon. Currently, only four nations have managed that feat, including the United States, Russia, China, and most recently, India with its Chandrayaan-3 lander.
Japan’s latest probe lifted off in September and has continued its journey to the moon in relative silence, without much fanfare. However, now that it has entered the lunar orbit, things are about to heat up, as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) prepares for the SLIM probe’s landing procedures to kick off on January 20 around midnight Japan time.
It’s expected only to take 20 minutes to land the probe on the surface, at which point it will hopefully prove that high-precision landings of this type are possible on the moon. The lander is also equipped with scientific instruments, like a spherical probe allowing astronomers to survey the moon’s surface.
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It is the high-precision plans for the SLIM probe that make it stand out so much, though. Previously, the margin of error has often been 10-plus kilometers with lunar landings. However, JAXA’s latest attempt could prove that it’s possible to land within a margin of error of just 100 meters, something previously thought impossible.
However, landing on the surface of the moon is difficult due to the absence of atmosphere. All eyes will be on Japan’s SLIM probe once January 20 rolls around. Japan is also expected to send its first astronauts to the moon later this decade aboard one of the Artemis missions.
The post Japan prepares for historic SLIM probe moon landing next month appeared first on BGR.