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Slim rises yet again after surviving second lunar night

Japan’s space agency has confirmed its Slim lander survived a second two-week-long lunar night and was able to send fresh pictures back to Earth.

The feat is remarkable given its botched initial landing – which saw it touch down on its nose – and the fact that the device was not designed to survive night conditions that can reach as low as -130 Celsius.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) added on Monday that Slim’s multi-band camera “still works” and the device was put back to sleep – leaving open the possibility it could be reactivated yet again in future.

“We received a response from SLIM last night confirming that SLIM was successful in its second overnight,” JAXA posted on social media on 27 March.


“Last night, the sun was still high, and the equipment was hot, so we hurriedly used the navigation camera to take pictures of the usual scenery for a short time.”

It’s the latest remarkable twist to the mission that has continued to defy expectations.

The Slim mission – or Smart Lander for Investigating Moon – aimed to land on a sloped rim inside the 300-metre-wide Shioli crater.

It was nicknamed the “Moon Sniper” for its goal of landing so close to its target point.


Despite fulfilling its primary objective, it hit the surface on its nose and in a position that meant its panels faced west and, therefore, away from the sun at that point.

The incident forced project leaders to run the device entirely on battery power, before putting it into a first temporary hibernation when the charge hit 12 per cent.

Moon missions usually attempt to land early in the lunar day, when the sun rises from the east, giving two weeks of illumination before it sets in the west for two subsequent weeks of darkness.

When sunset occurred early on 31 January, the team were able to power it back up for a second time.

Slim sent back an early photo of its own bodged landing, taken by a baseball-sized robot called Sora-Q, which was successfully ejected moments before the touchdown.

Not only did Sora-Q move on the surface to take the photo, but a second rover, Lev-1, managed to hop.

“The accomplishment of Lev-1’s leaping movements on the lunar surface, inter-robot communication between Lev-1 and Sora-Q, and fully autonomous operations represent groundbreaking achievement,” said JAXA.

“It would be regarded as a valuable technology demonstration for future lunar explorations, and the acquired knowledge and experience will be applied in upcoming missions.”

Slim subsequently went dormant before coming back again in late February and then once more in late March, meaning it has survived two full lunar nights.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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