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IPFS News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Japan lands on Moon, but lander may have only hours to live

•, By David Szondy

At 10:20 am EST, the SLIM lander touched down, but the solar panels failed to engage, leaving the craft with only a few hours of battery power.

Coming hard on the fiery end of America's Peregrine 1 lunar landing mission, JAXA's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission garnered a good deal of attention. Not only was Japan making another attempt at a Moon landing, but it was attempting to do so specifically to test a new high-precision landing system that uses surface craters as navigation marks.

Normally, Moon landings require very large landing areas in the form of ellipses covering many square miles. SLIM is a stripped-down lander designed to land with an accuracy of 100 m (330 ft). For comparison, the Apollo 11 mission needed a landing ellipse 20 km (12 miles) long.

Small wonder that SLIM earned the nickname of Moon Sniper.

According to JAXA, the landing attempt began at 10:00 am EST with the landing 20 minutes later. The landing was what the space agency called a "minimum success" because it bounced on touchdown and the solar panels failed to come online. As a result, SLIM is operating solely on battery power and unless the malfunction can be rectified, the lander will die in a matter of hours.

The video below recaps the landing and the following press conference.

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