The Japanese SLIM module successfully landed on the Moon — Japan became the fifth country in history to do so

The Japanese space agency JAXA reported that its SLIM lander made a soft landing on the Moon.. Contact with him has been established. More accurate data will be published later, since solar panels have not started collecting energy to power on-board systems and charge batteries. At the time of landing, as follows from telemetry readings, the module’s batteries had slightly more than 70% charge remaining.

This may be a real shot of the SLIM lander on the Moon, but this is not certain. Image source: JAXA

The Japanese SLIM lander touched the lunar surface exactly according to the flight schedule at 18:20 Moscow time. Previously, he lowered the flight altitude over the Moon to 15 km and, in the last minutes of movement towards the landing zone, performed something in the form of a “barrel” aerobatics maneuver with an altitude climb of up to 25 km. Then the descent began, lasting 20 minutes.

Until the lander's solar panels provide stable power, the agency will not initiate the launch of tasks other than collecting data on the status of the module. More details about the descent and the implementation of the main task — to land with a deviation of no more than 100 m — will be discussed later.

The mission program included the release of two small robotic probes — a jumping one and one in the form of a ball, divided into two halves — wheels — until they touched the surface of the Moon. The probes are equipped with cameras and were supposed to capture the moment of landing. There is no clarity on this issue yet.

We can tentatively conclude that Japan appears to have become the fifth country in the history of earthly astronautics to be able to land a lander on the surface of the Moon. In the last century this was done by the USSR and the USA, and in the current century by China, India and now Japan. The 2.4m tall, 200kg SLIM lander will conduct a range of studies on the Moon, including using a near-infrared camera to assess the moon's surface to assess its mineral composition.

The lander had to descend in an area with difficult terrain — ideally on the slope of a crater — to prove the possibility of a targeted landing. All previous descents to the Moon occurred with deviations of up to 10 km, while SLIM was supposed to demonstrate a “sniper shot” — a landing with a deviation of no more than 100 m. This technology would be Japan's contribution to the Artemis lunar exploration program under the auspices of the United States.