Japan’s ‘Lunar Sniper’ Successfully Lands On Moon But Has No Juice

The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
American Liberty News
- July 15, 2024
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, a progressive host and former press secretary for President Joe Biden, voiced deep concerns this weekend about the climate of fear and violence, supposedly towards journalists, following the near assassination of former President .

During an appearance on ' “” with , Psaki addressed the tension and the possibility of violence in the wake of the assassination attempt. She emphasized that attributing the attack to Democrats and the media only heightens fears and escalates the risk.

ANALYSIS, one of America's staunchest allies, has become only the fifth country to successfully land on the lunar surface with its small, high-tech “ (or Lunar) Sniper” spacecraft. And is the first to land with impressive accuracy.

Unfortunately, the lander is not generating electricity, which could doom its longer-term mission.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) landed on the moon's surface at around 12:20 a.m. (15:20 GMT Jan. 19) and reestablished communication with earth, but its solar panels may not be properly angled toward the sun.

If the problem isn't fixed soon, SLIM could go forever silent. Its battery can support operations on the moon for just a few hours. Still, just landing the craft was a major victory for Japan, and .

“First and foremost, landing was successful,” Yamakawa Hiroshi, president of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), said during a post-landing press conference.

The Japanese mission's primary objective is to test pinpoint landing technology, aiming for an accuracy of less than 100 meters, so in one big way, it successfully completed its primary purpose. This level of precision is unprecedented for a body like the moon and could significantly enhance the quality of data collected during future missions.

As Space.com reported:

SLIM aimed to land within 330 feet (100 meters) of its target site on the rim of Shioli Crater, explaining the probe's “Moon Sniper” nickname.

“While impressive in their own right, this mission's landing ambitions are also key to the future of scientific lunar exploration,” The Planetary Society wrote in a mission description… 

SLIM's mission architecture hopes to shift the standards of lunar landing missions, from touching down where it's easy to setting down exactly where desired.”

It appears that SLIM achieved the desired landing precision, JAXA officials said during the press conference, though it could take about a month for the mission team to confirm that conclusion.

SLIM landed on the slope of the Shioli crater near lunar sea Mare Nectaris. The site was selected based on high-resolution images from lunar orbiters.

Though SLIM is primarily a precision landing-tech demonstrator, it was also intended to perform some science work during its lunar day on the moon's surface – that's about two Earth weeks. As of this time, that secondary mission is in doubt.

On landing, SLIM also deployed two mini-probes – a hopping vehicle as big as a microwave oven and a tennis ball-sized wheeled rover – designed to gather data and take pictures of the spacecraft.

The little hopper is called LEV-1, and the ball-shaped craft is known as LEV-2 (LEV is short for Lunar Excursion Vehicle).

Both LEV-1 and LEV-2 appear to have deployed as planned, and LEV-1 is known to be working, adding to the mission's achievements.

Another purpose of this mission was to show that small, relatively inexpensive spacecraft can accomplish significant achievements. The probe weighs just 440 pounds without propellant, and its mission cost about $120 million.

As I wrote about earlier, India's Chandrayaan-3 in August made a historic touchdown on the moon's south pole with a rover duo, a major technological feat given the rough terrain, highlighting India's rise as a major player in space.

The other countries in the moon-landing club are the former Soviet Union and the United States, which made their first trips to the lunar surface during the Cold War; and China, whose first landing occurred in December 2013.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of American Liberty News.

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