The mission, viewed by a global online audience of 35,000, saw the H-IIA rocket take off from Tanegashima, a southern island in Japan. On board, the “SLIM” Moon probe and the XRISM space research satellite, a collaborative effort with the US and European space agencies, embarked on their separate journeys.
This launch was no stranger to delays, having been postponed three times due to adverse weather conditions. The “SLIM” Moon probe, dubbed the “Moon Sniper,” is a notable component of this mission since it is built for precise landing, allowing it to target a specific point on the lunar surface within 100 meters, a significant improvement over the customary several kilometers range.
The significance of this achievement was highlighted by Japan’s space agency, JAXA, which stated that it paves the path for future expeditions to even more resource-limited celestial planets. The mission marks a global milestone, as there have been no previous instances of pinpoint landings on celestial bodies with significant gravity.
XRISM, the companion satellite, is set to conduct high-resolution X-ray spectroscopic observations, shedding light on the hot gas plasma wind that courses through galaxies. This data will contribute to the understanding of mass and energy flows, unraveling celestial object compositions and evolutions.
Remarkably, the lander carries a spherical probe developed in collaboration with a toy company. Slightly larger than a tennis ball, it possesses the ability to change its shape, facilitating mobility on the lunar surface.India’s recent lunar triumph added to the significance of Japan’s mission, as it was a testament to India’s low-cost space program’s capabilities. However, Japan has had its share of difficulties in the past, with prior lunar missions failing, including the loss of the lunar probe Omotenashi last year and a failed attempt by a Japanese firm in April.Japan’s space program has also experienced problems with its launch rockets, with repeated failures in recent months. Nonetheless, the country remains committed to its goals, even recruiting astronaut candidates for the first time in nearly a decade, demonstrating its willingness to send a Japanese astronaut to the moon.
(With inputs from agencies)
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