Surprise! Japanese Lunar Lander SLIM Survives Second Deadly Night On The Moon

News of Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon’s (SLIM) demise are greatly exaggerated. SLIM landed on the Moon in late January, demonstrating high precision landing on another world – unfortunately, it landed a little wonky which complicated the whole operation. Still, the tech was clearly strong enough to survive the dramatic drop in temperature experienced during the unforgiving lunar night – not once but twice!

When SLIM landed on January 19, its compromised position meant that it couldn’t use its solar panels to power up. While the position was unfortunate, at least SLIM was leaning in the right direction. As the Moon rotated around the Earth, the Sun began shining on the inclined surface where the solar panels were, providing needed juice.

In late February, the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) reported that SLIM managed to survive its first lunar night. And now they report that the sturdy slanted lander has done it again – although its future is still uncertain.

“Last night, we received a response from #SLIM, confirming that the spacecraft made it through the lunar night for the second time! Since the sun was still high and the equipment was still hot, we only took some shots of the usual scenery with the navigation camera,” JAXA reported on the SLIM Twitter account.

“According to the acquired data, some temperature sensors and unused battery cells are starting to malfunction, but the majority of functions that survived the first lunar night was maintained even after the second lunar night!”

All good things come in threes, so we can hope that SLIM will survive for a third night, but whether it does or not, it has far exceeded expectations. SLIM stands for Smart Lander for Investigating Moon. Its goal was to demonstrate that it is possible to land on another world with incredible precision. The objective was to soft-land within just 100 meters (330 feet) of a specific target area. Based on the current dataset, it appears to have landed just 55 meters (180 feet) from the target area.

This lunar night might have spared SLIM but it claimed Odysseus, which also landed on its side. This is not a new fad that all the cool lunar landers are doing. It just shows how difficult it is to soft-land even on a place as close as the Moon. Odysseus was the first US lander in 50 years to land on the Moon and the first private lander to not crash-land on the lunar surface. Its owner, Intuitive Machines, confirmed that it did not wake up a few days ago.

Leave a Comment