JAXA's SLIM Mission Aims for Precision Lunar Landing on January 20
JAXA's SLIM Mission Aims for Precision Lunar Landing on January 20

Japan's space agency, JAXA, announced the upcoming plans for its Moon exploration mission, Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM). Currently en route to the Moon since its injection into lunar transfer orbit on September 28, 2023, the spacecraft is slated to enter lunar orbit by December 25. After parking in orbit until mid-January 2024, SLIM will maneuver into its landing orbit by January 19, with the landing attempt scheduled for January 20 around 12:00 hours JST (08:30 hours IST).

Should the landing not be feasible on January 20, the next opportunity will be on February 16, 2024. The extended gap between landing windows is due to SLIM's ambitious goal of pinpoint precision, targeting an area only 100 meters wide. In contrast, previous lunar missions aimed at landing zones covering square kilometers. Success would mark the first demonstration of such precision landing capabilities on the Moon, essential for future missions leveraging local resources.

The mission's main objective revolves around executing an exact landing, necessitating highly miniaturized payloads. SLIM's design centers on a fuel tank, serving as the core support structure, housing miniature sensors, computers, and electronics. The spacecraft's solar panels are composed of thin, flexible material, conforming to its structure. JAXA reports the spacecraft's health is sound, and the mission has progressed smoothly since its launch aboard an H2A rocket from the Tanegashima Space Centre on September 06, 2023.

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