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Japan Moon probe survives second lunar night: Space agency

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TOKYO: Japan’s unmanned lunar lander has stirred to life following its survival through a second frigid lunar night, beamed fresh images back to Earth, the nation’s space agency reported on Thursday.
“We received a response from SLIM last night and confirmed that SLIM had successfully completed its second overnight,” the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said in a post on the official X account for its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) probe.
“Given the high position of the sun and the residual warmth within the equipment, we managed to capture images of the familiar lunar landscape using the navigational camera, among other activities, albeit for a brief period,” the agency elaborated. A black-and-white photo of the rocky surface of a crater accompanied the post.
SLIM’s landing in January was at an unconventional angle, leaving its solar panels misaligned. Approximately three hours post-landing, making Japan the fifth nation to achieve this feat, JAXA opted to power down SLIM, retaining 12 percent battery capacity for potential reactivation later.
Following a shift in the sun’s position, the probe briefly came back online in late January, conducting scientific observations of a crater using a high-spec camera.
However, the lunar nights, spanning two weeks with temperatures plummeting to minus 133 degrees Celsius, posed a challenge as the spacecraft wasn’t originally engineered to endure such extreme conditions. Thus, JAXA scientists rejoiced when SLIM successfully reawakened in late February after its initial lunar night.
JAXA has dubbed SLIM the “Moon Sniper” for its precision landing technology. The mission’s objective is to investigate a segment of the Moon’s mantle, a typically inaccessible inner layer beneath the surface.
This update follows news that Odysseus, an uncrewed American lander and the first private spacecraft to land on the Moon, failed to reactivate despite projections indicating sufficient sunlight for its solar panels to power its radio, as announced by its manufacturer last Saturday.
(With inputs from agencies)

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