“Moon Sniper” sends an exciting photo of the Earth from a distance of 100,000 km

The SLIM spacecraft of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has sent a spectacular image of the Earth to Earth as part of testing a camera that will be used for an accurate landing on the Moon. The picture was not of very high quality, because the SLIM camera was created to determine its position during the descent to the Moon.

The Earth photographed by Japan’s SLIM lander. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency published this photo on September 21, 2023. Image credit: JAXA

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) lunar vehicle launched on an H-2A rocket on September 6, 2023. According to JAXA, it successfully passed the first important stage in low Earth orbit, during which it completed a series of tests of all onboard systems. SLIM took a photo of the Earth, where half of our planet was hidden in the big shadow of space.

The black-and-white photo was published by JAXA on September 21 on SLIM’s official page on the X network, formerly known as Twitter. The picture was taken at a distance of about 100 thousand kilometers from Earth. The camera has a monochrome mode since it is not used for space filming, but is a component of a navigation system with two cameras and a vision system that are designed to determine the terrain on the Moon and will help the spacecraft during landing.

An image is also published on the SLIM page in JAXA, which shows Japan – the central part of the sphere that is out of shadow – and the location of the remote, barely noticeable Moon — the ultimate goal of the project. 

SLIM’s long journey to the Moon

SLIM has already overcome the first stage of its long flight to the Moon. On September 26, at 04:00 a.m. GMT+3, SLIM, also known as the “moon sniper”, performed the second corrective maneuver. While in low Earth orbit, the spacecraft turned on the main engine for 70 seconds. This made it possible to transfer SLIM to a new planned orbit with a higher apogee, the point furthest from the Earth. A few days later, the spacecraft reached a distance of 100 thousand km, where it took a picture of the Earth.

JAXA has not yet announced the exact date of landing on the Moon, but notes that the flight to the Moon will take three to four months. Such a longer route allows it to save fuel for a light spacecraft. 

After arriving on the Moon, the spacecraft will prepare to demonstrate landing capabilities within 100 meters of the target point. This will allow testing landing methods that will make complex landing sites for exploring the Moon safer and more accurate. 

Earlier we reported on how the Japanese Space Agency would land the strangest lunar rover on the moon.

According to Space

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