(CTN News) – Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), affectionately known as the “Moon Sniper,” marked a significant achievement on Monday as it entered the moon’s orbit, paving the way for Japan‘s inaugural lunar landing, slated for next month.
If successful, Japan would join the exclusive ranks of the United States, Russia, China, and India as the fifth country to achieve a lunar landing.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced the successful entry into the moon’s orbit at 04:51 p.m. JP time, emphasizing that the probe’s trajectory shift proceeded as planned with no anomalies in its conditions.
SLIM’s precision landing within 100 meters of a specific target on the lunar surface is expected to occur around 12:00 a.m. J.P time on January 20, representing an unprecedented level of accuracy.
Equipped with a spherical probe developed by a toy company, slightly larger than a tennis ball, SLIM can adapt its shape for movement on the lunar surface.
Japan’s SLIM Project Sets High-Precision Mission Objectives
The mission’s aim for high precision is a result of a 20-year effort by researchers, offering a remarkable improvement compared to previous probes with larger margins of error.
JAXA’s SLIM project manager, Shinichiro Sakai, highlighted the evolving technological landscape, noting the increasing demand to pinpoint specific targets on the moon’s surface.
The hope is that SLIM’s exactitude will facilitate the sampling of lunar permafrost, contributing to a better understanding of water resources on the moon.
While Japanese missions have faced setbacks in the past, including the unsuccessful OMOTENASHI probe last year and a private attempt by ispace in April, the current progress of SLIM signals a promising step forward in Jp’s lunar exploration endeavors.