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Japan’s Moon Lander Keeps Waking Up After It Was Supposed to Die

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I’m Still Alive

Japan’s first Moon lander refuses to die.

The spacecraft — dubbed Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) — has sent back yet another image three months after it landed upside down on the lunar surface.

That means it has survived a third lunar night, just over two Earth weeks of freezing temperatures and complete darkness, surprising teams back on the ground. After all, it was not designed to survive even a single lunar night — an astonishing feat of engineering that’s paying dividends.

https://twitter.com/SLIM_JAXA/status/1782956426752848056

Hot and Cold

The lander reached the lunar surface on January 20. While it technically survived the hellish journey in one piece, it landed on its nose, with its solar panels pointing in a less-than-ideal direction.

At first, the team at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) worried it would soon have to be shut down for good due to its solar cells being unable to generate power.

Just over two months later, JAXA confirmed that the lander was still alive and transmitting signals following two bitterly cold lunar nights.

And miraculously, SLIM is still kicking.

“Last night (the night of April 23), we were able to successfully communicate with SLIM which had started up again, and confirmed that SLIM had survived for the third time,” an update by the agency’s SLIM on X reads, as translated by Google.

A black-and-white photo shows the surrounding area, a hilly and desolate surface, dotted with rocks.

The team at JAXA is now carefully monitoring the lander’s condition and is hoping to identify areas where the extreme temperature fluctuations may have deteriorated it.

In short, it’s a tremendous feat that comes after several failed attempts to land on the lunar surface, including US-based space company Astrobotic’s Peregrine One, which burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere after failing to reach the Moon just days before SLIM’s landing.

Space startup Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus lander similarly landed on its side after touching down in February, marking the first US landing in more than 50 years.

However, the lander went dormant a week later — and seemingly hasn’t made a peep ever since.

More on SLIM: Japanese Moon Lander Dying After Touching Down on Lunar Surface

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