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Japan Hopes To Revive Moon Lander After Power Loss

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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Japan faced a setback in its lunar exploration ambitions this week as the “Moon Sniper” lander lost power shortly after making contact with the moon’s surface. Despite this unexpected challenge, dedicated engineers are tirelessly working around the clock to revive the mission.

Is there a possibility of reviving the lander for further lunar exploration, or will it continue to stay silent amidst the enigmatic expanse of the moon’s plains? In this piece, we’ll be reviewing the story behind this technical hiccup and incredible efforts to bring the Moon lander back to life.

The successful Landing

Japan successfully joined the ranks of lunar explorers with the Moon Lander’s gentle touchdown, marking it as the fifth country to achieve this feat. The mission aimed for a lunar crater, where the moon’s deep inner layer, its mantle, is thought to be exposed on the surface.

After the midnight touchdown on Saturday (15:20 GMT, Friday), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) faced uncertainty as the lightweight craft’s solar batteries status was unclear. Despite this, JAXA later clarified that the craft was intentionally switched off to conserve power for a potential restart when conditions were optimal.

JAXA explained that the battery was disconnected following procedures, ensuring a 12 percent power reserve to facilitate a smooth restart without hindrance. Telemetry data indicated that the SLIM’s solar cells were positioned westward, suggesting future opportunities for power generation when sunlight hits the moon from that direction.

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The power loss

SLIM, also known as  “Moon Sniper” or ”Moon Lander” for its precision landing technology, transmitted stunning images and valuable data before its battery dipped to a critical 12%. 

As a precautionary measure, engineers powered down the lander to conserve energy, optimistic that a change in the sun’s angle would soon recharge the solar panels.

With the lunar day-night cycle spanning approximately 29.5 Earth days, SLIM now faces a chilly two-week stretch in darkness before sunlight bathes its solar panels once again.

This adds considerable urgency for JAXA to devise a solution before the fleeting window of opportunity closes.

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What Is The Solution And Uncertainty Concerning Moon Landers Fate?

JAXA is actively exploring various avenues to restore the Moon lander’s functionality, including the possibility of tapping into its internal battery for a quick power boost to reconfigure solar panels.

Also, the team is investigating alternative power sources, such as radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). While these alternatives come with inherent risks and uncertainties, they stand as the mission’s sole chance for revival.

A glimmer of hope arises from SLIM’s built-in “sleep mode,” allowing the Moon lander to conserve energy by shutting down non-essential functions during the lunar night. Should all else fail, this sleep mode becomes a crucial lifeline, buying JAXA precious time until the return of sunlight.

The fate of the Moon lander now hangs in the balance, casting a shadow over what was initially a monumental achievement.

Despite this setback, the scientific community remains captivated by the potential for a dramatic comeback. JAXA’s steadfast determination to revive the mission reflects the indomitable spirit of human exploration, and the world awaits eagerly as the fate of Japan’s Moon Sniper unfolds.

In the upcoming days and weeks, the Moon lander’s destiny will be pivotal, leaving us to wonder whether it will join the ranks of operational lunar probes or serve as a testament to the challenges of space exploration. The saga of Japan’s Moon Sniper is far from concluded, and its resolution is sure to capture the imagination of space enthusiasts globally.

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FAQS

What happened to Japan’s Moon lander?

The Moon lander experienced a power loss, leading to a temporary shutdown of its systems.

How is Japan planning to revive the Moon lander?

Japan is working on implementing strategies to restore power and communication to the Moon lander, aiming for a successful revival.

What is the status of the Moon lander’s mission objectives?

The mission’s status is currently on hold due to the power loss. Once power is restored, the lander will resume its planned mission objectives.

How does this incident impact Japan’s overall space exploration efforts?

The impact on Japan’s overall space exploration efforts will depend on the outcome of the revival efforts. If successful, the impact may be minimal, but failure to revive the lander could have implications for future missions.

Conclusion

Japan’s unwavering commitment to space exploration is evident in its determined efforts to revive the Moon lander following a power loss setback. The challenges encountered serve as a testament to the complexities of space missions, yet Japan’s resilience and dedication underscore the importance of pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery. As the nation continues to explore and innovate in space exploration, the incident with the Moon lander serves as a valuable learning experience, fostering advancements in technology and knowledge that will undoubtedly contribute to future space endeavors.

References

  • global.jaxa – Outcome for the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) ‘s Moon Landing
  • aljazeera.com – Japan hopes to restore power to ‘Moon Sniper’
  • bbc.com – Japan hopes sunlight can save stricken Slim Moon lander

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Blessing Ukibe
Blessing Ukibe

Medical Student at Nnamdi Azikiwe University|Tech content expert at Silicon Africa Technology|Lover of fun books and fun fun ☺️

Articles: 90

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