Last night, the Peregrine device burned down in the Earth’s atmosphere. It was supposed to land on the moon, but failed to do so due to a fuel leak. What Peregrine failed to do, another Earth messenger, the SLIM probe, will try to do today.
SLIM was built by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Its dimensions are 1.5 × 1.5 × 2 meters, weight (including fuel) is 590 kg. The main purpose of the probe is to test the technology of an accurate landing on the moon. It will have to land at a given point near the Shioli Cratr with an accuracy of 100 meters. Due to this, it received its unofficial nickname thee “Moon Sniper.”
Now, the spacecraft is in a circumlunar orbit, which is only 15 km high. At 4:00 p.m. UTC time, the SLIM spacecraft will launch engines and begin to decrease. If everything goes well, it will make a soft landing in about 20 minutes. The event will be streamed live on YouTube.
It is worth emphasizing that, at the moment, Japan has no experience with moon landings. If successful, it will become the fifth country in history to achieve this goal.
Although the main objective of the mission is to develop precision landing technology, SLIM also has several scientific instruments on board. In particular, the spacecraft carries a multi-band camera (MBC) to assess the composition of Shioli Crater by analyzing the spectra of sunlight reflected from its surface. The mission team, in particular, will look for traces of the presence of the mineral olivine, which could have been ejected from the lunar mantle.
There are also a couple of micro-rovers on board the probe. One of them will move around the moon by jumping, the other should move by rolling. Both vehicles carry cameras and other scientific payloads. Both SLIM and micro rovers are designed to operate on the lunar surface for one local day (14 Earth days).
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