SLIM lander on the Moon stopped replying: JAXA tries to reconnect

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has successfully landed its SLIM spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. The successful landing made Japan the fifth country to reach the Moon, after the United States, the Soviet Union, the European Space Agency and China. However, the spacecraft suffered several failures: capsizing after landing, difficulties with power supply during the first lunar night, and other malfunctions.

The artist’s concept shows an overturned Japanese SLIM lander on the Moon. Authorship: ISAS/JAXA

On the Moon, day and night last for 14 Earth days, which creates significant problems for missions that use solar panels. Despite this, SLIM was able to reorient its panels, recharge and survive three lunar nights in a row since landing. However, on May 27, when the next lunar night began, JAXA lost contact with the spacecraft and suspended all scientific operations until communication could be restored.

“We tried again on the night of the 27th, but there was no response from #SLIM. As the sun went down around SLIM on the night of the 27th, it became impossible to generate electricity, so unfortunately this month’s operation will end,” JAXA reported on its official account on the social network X.

JAXA also noted that they planned to try to restore communication after the end of the current lunar night at the end of June, when the vehicle would be able to recharge. “We hope that the whole system will be reset and restarted,” the agency said.

Illustration of the Japanese lunar spacecraft SLIM

The SLIM mission also included two rovers that separated from it in lunar orbit and made an independent landing on the same day. These rovers, known as Lunar Excursion Vehicle-1 and -2 (LEV-1 and LEV-2), are the first Japanese robotic missions exploring the lunar surface. According to JAXA, LEV-1 is the world’s first jumping research lunar rover, and LEV-2 is the smallest and lightest in the world. Four months after landing, LEV-1 measured local temperatures, topography and took pictures.

Rovers can perform operations autonomously and transmit data to Earth directly, without the help of a lander. Therefore, JAXA mission controllers hope to receive messages from LEV-1 and LEV-2 while they try to reconnect with SLIM.

Earlier, we reported on how Japan lost contact with the only artificial satellite of Venus.

According to