Japan believes sunlight may rescue the damaged Slim Moon lander

According to Japan’s space agency Jaxa, if sunlight strikes the Moon lander at the correct angle, it might still be able to be salvaged. Three hours after its historic lunar landing on Saturday, the Slim spacecraft was shut down to conserve power. The solar cells on it were facing west, away from the Sun, which prevented them from producing electricity, as engineers had discovered. However, the mission crew is now optimistic that when lighting conditions change, the situation may get better. “If sunlight hits the Moon from the west in the future, we believe there’s a possibility of power generation, and we’re currently preparing for restoration,” the statement said.

Japan is now only the fifth country in history to have successfully completed a soft lunar landing thanks to the Slim mission, also known as “Moon Sniper” due to its use of precision landing technologies. However, when power levels depleted, the excitement of witnessing the spaceship finish its controlled drop quickly gave way to concern. It was decided to put the craft to sleep rather than allow it to run fully flat. “The battery was disconnected according to our procedures with 12% power remaining, in order to avoid a situation where the restart (of the lander) would be hampered,” Jaxa stated.

“As a result, the spacecraft was switched off at 02:57 (Saturday, Japan time, or 17:57 GMT, Friday).” Mission control was able to successfully obtain information about Slim’s situation and data regarding its descent to the lunar surface prior to shutdown. Updates were promised by the agency throughout the entire week. Early in the “lunar day,” when the Sun rises above the eastern horizon, is when moon missions attempt to land. This allows a spaceship to be illuminated for roughly two “Earth weeks” before the Sun sets in the west, resulting in two weeks of darkness.

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