Japan's SLIM spacecraft unexpectedly landed on the Moon upside down: how and why it happened is unknown. Photo

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
SLIM is a test device that was supposed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technology. Source: Getty/JAXA/collage by OBOZ.UA

The Japanese space agency JAXA has released the first photo of its SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) spacecraft, which landed on the Moon on January 19, 2024, making the country's space history. The photo, which made everyone think a lot, shows the device standing upside down on the surface of the Earth's satellite.

The photo appeared on JAXA's official account on X (formerly known as Twitter). The photo was taken by a small research robot called LEV-2, also known as SORA-Q.

"This image was transmitted to Earth via LEV-1, and it has been confirmed that the communication function between LEV-1 and LEV-2 is working normally," JAXA representatives wrote.

Japan's SLIM spacecraft on the lunar surface.

The fact that the photo was sent to the mission control center indicates that SLIM's subsidiary vehicles, LEV-2 and LEV-1, separated as planned and successfully operated on the lunar surface.

According to Space, regardless of what happens next, thanks to SLIM and its two satellites, Japan can safely land on the lunar surface.

SLIM's landing on the Moon made Japan the fifth country in the world to make a soft landing. The new photo is proof of this fact but it also draws attention to the way the spacecraft is positioned on the surface.

Currently, researchers do not know exactly what happened to the spacecraft during the landing that it ended up upside down on the Moon. There have been theories online that the spacecraft landed on a sloping hill but there is no evidence of this in the photo.

It is known that during the hovering phase, one of the two main engines failed right near the surface of the satellite. However, SLIM managed to react by reducing power to 55%.

However, after that, the nozzle fell off. JAXA says this happened for some external reason. What exactly it was is unknown.

It is worth noting that during the landing process, SLIM also routinely shot off small spherical rovers LEV-1 and LEV-2, which sent an interesting photo to Earth.

Currently, SLIM has problems with battery power because its solar panels are not exposed to the sun. JAXA hopes that by January 31 or February 1, the Sun will change its position relative to the spacecraft and allow it to charge its batteries. However, there is a danger that the solar panels of the vehicle were damaged during the landing.

After SLIM reached the lunar surface on January 19, JAXA operators could not confirm its status due to a lack of communication with it. Later, they reported that the problem was that the solar panels were not generating electricity. The published photo shows that the spacecraft is in quite satisfactory condition, which explains why the panels are not working.

SLIM is a test spacecraft that aims to show the effectiveness of the developed technology, which provides ultra-precise landing on the planet.

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