Alive: Japan’s SLIM probe survived a cold lunar night

The Japanese SLIM probe was able to survive the lunar night and made contact with the Earth. This is stated in a message posted by the mission team on the social network X (formerly Twitter).

SLIM was built by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The main objective of the mission was to demonstrate precision moon landing technology. Therefore, it received the unofficial nickname “Moon Sniper”.

The probe as a whole successfully coped with the task, landing on the slope of the Shioli crater. However, not everything went well. At the final stage of landing, one of the engines failed at the device. This led to the fact that SLIM landed in an abnormal mode, burying its “head” in the regolith. As a result, the solar panels of the spacecraft were in the shade.

Because of this, SLIM was initially in touch with Earth for only 2.5 hours. Ten days later, when the Sun changed its position in the lunar sky and illuminated its panels, the probe “woke up” again and contacted the Earth. Two days later, the Sun went below the horizon. Since SLIM does not have radioisotope heaters and its electronics are not designed for the temperatures of cold lunar nights, it seemed that this was the end of the mission.

However, SLIM presented a pleasant surprise. When the Sun rose over the Shioli crater again, the spacecraft contacted the Earth. However, the session was short-lived. The connection was interrupted due to the strong heating of the on-board equipment, as it was noon in the landing zone. Now the mission’s specialists are waiting for the instruments to cool down in order to reconnect with the probe and assess its condition. But in any case, SLIM has already written itself into history. At the moment, this is the first time that a spacecraft that does not have heaters has survived a lunar night.

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