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Space

The first SLIM images from the Moon: the Japanese probe appears upside down

The Japanese Space Agency released the first shots after the moon landing and before the suspension of power due to the orientation problem of the solar panels

01/25/2024

JAXA

After a few days of trepidation, the Japanese Space Agency probe sent the first images taken by the two rovers released before the precision moon landing - just 55 meters from the intended target - and which portray SLIM apparently intact on the surface near the crater Shioli, but upside down.

An image that seems to confirm the complications experienced during the descent phase when one of the lander's thrusters lost power about 50 meters from the surface, causing a moon landing, from this point of view, more difficult than expected, explained the Japanese agency.

The problem with the orientation of the solar panels initially made it difficult to understand whether the probe had landed in the expected area and forced JAXA to suspend power after about three hours to save energy for a subsequent restart when, those responsible hope of the mission, the angle of the Sun at the landing point will change, returning to power the probe.

Despite the limited time available, the two "photographic" rovers on board SLIM - LEV-1 and LEV-2 (SORA-Q) - managed to send 275 images, explained Daichi Hirano, JAXA scientist who designed LEV-2, a robot the size of a baseball and equipped with two cameras.