Japan craft made successful pin-point Moon landing, space agency says


The lander suffered engine problems during its descent that may have knocked it off course, Shinichiro Sakai, SLIM’s project manager, told reporters.

Before that, the craft had been on track to land even closer to its target.

Problems with the lightweight spacecraft’s solar batteries also meant they were not generating power.

Nearly three hours after touchdown, JAXA decided to switch SLIM off with 12 per cent power remaining to allow for a possible resumption when the sun’s angle changes.

That could be in just a week because the craft’s solar cells are facing west, the agency said.

“Based on current estimates, we are preparing for the resumption of the probe’s operations by Feb 1,” JAXA said.

WATER RESOURCES

Mission control was able to download technical and image data from its descent and the lunar surface before powering down the craft.

The mission was aiming for a crater where the Moon’s mantle, the usually deep inner layer beneath its crust, is believed to be exposed on the surface.

By analysing the rocks there, JAXA hopes to shed light on the mystery of the Moon’s possible water resources – key to building bases there one day as possible stopovers on the way to Mars.

Two probes detached successfully from SLIM on Saturday: one with a transmitter and another designed to trundle around the lunar surface beaming images to Earth.



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