Japan’s Lunar Rover Nails Perfect Moon Landing, Scoring 100 Out of 100
On the 20th, a Japanese probe that landed on the moon achieved its goal of ‘pinpoint landing’ within an error of 100m.
NHK reported that the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) stated, “It is estimated that the probe SLIM landed about 55m from the landing target point regarding the moon landing.”
JAXA challenged the “pinpoint landing,” which significantly reduced the landing point error of SLIM from several kilometers to within 100m and achieved more than expected.
Shinichiro Sakai, the project manager at JAXA in charge of SLIM, rated this landing as a “Perfect score. It performed as expected.”
Landing at the desired point on the moon, where water is presumed to exist partially in ice, is essential. Experts evaluate that pinpoint landing technology is advantageous in efficiently finding water resources on the moon’s surface.
Through this milestone, Japan became the fifth country in the world to succeed in landing on the moon.
JAXA set three success criteria for SLIM’s moon landing. While it met the requirements of ‘landing on the moon’s surface’ and ‘landing within an error of 100m’, it failed to satisfy the ‘continue activity until sunset.’ JAXA also released a photo of SLIM taken by the small robot ‘Sora-Q’ that was separated from SLIM just before the moon landing. The photo shows SLIM standing obliquely on the rugged moon’s surface.
After landing, SLIM switched to battery mode because the solar cells malfunctioned. As a result, SLIM, which was supposed to operate for several days, stopped in just two and a half hours. JAXA turned off the power when the remaining battery level was about 10%, anticipating the possibility of power generation when sunlight reaches the solar cells.
JAXA stated, “The moon’s surface repeats day and night every two weeks, and if sunlight reaches the solar cells and power is restored by February 1, which corresponds to the moon’s sunset, there is a possibility that the probe can automatically start and operate again.” They added, “We achieved the world’s first moon surface exploration by a fully autonomous robot and simultaneous moon surface exploration by multiple robots.”