Japan’s moon lander successfully survives second lunar night

Japan’s moon lander, Slim, survived the lunar night, marking a “miracle” according to JAXA. Despite initial difficulties, Slim conducted scientific observations and resumed communication, with preparations underway for further operations.

Japan’s moon lander, Slim, has signalled from the lunar surface, indicating it endured the two-week lunar night, according to the country’s space agency. Despite landing at an awkward angle, Slim successfully powered up during daylight to conduct scientific observations with its high-resolution camera. However, its survival during the harsh lunar night was uncertain. Recently, after sending a command, Slim responded, indicating its successful survival and communication capability. Communication was briefly interrupted due to high temperatures, but preparations are underway to resume operations once instrument temperatures decrease.


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hailed the signal received late Sunday as a “miracle” because the probe, not built to withstand the lunar night’s extreme temperatures, managed to survive. The spacecraft, named Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), achieved a precise landing on January 20, marking Japan’s fifth successful lunar probe deployment.


The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) initially landed inverted, rendering its solar panels unable to access sunlight and necessitating shutdown shortly after. However, eight days post-landing, it regained power and commenced geological data collection from lunar rocks. Subsequently, SLIM entered hibernation to endure another lunar night.


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) abbreviated communication on Sunday due to “lunar midday” conditions, with SLIM experiencing temperatures of approximately 100°C. JAXA intends to re-establish contact once the vehicle cools. Scientists aim to unravel the Moon’s origins by comparing rock mineral compositions with those of Earth. Despite challenges, SLIM’s ability to collect data during operational periods underscores its significance in lunar exploration.