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The Japanese lunar probe landed with the front part down

The Japanese lunar probe landed with the front part down

Space travel

Updated January 26, 2024 at 2:59 p.m

When the Japanese probe “Slim” landed on the surface of the moon a few days ago, it landed a little crooked. The spacecraft is supposed to have eventually assumed an “almost vertical position with the main engine pointed upward,” the government space agency JAXA said Friday in an English-language report on the landing maneuver. The agency relied on data from the investigation. So the front part is pointing down.

More about space

The unusual situation was evident in the images published by the agency, which were taken by cameras on a small, spherical lunar module after landing. Before landing, the exploration vehicle separated from the lander along with a second lunar module that was to be used to make measurements.

SLIM landed on the moon's surface on January 20, Japan time. However, the solar panels on the probe no longer provided electricity after landing. Then the landing gear was turned off. Before shutting down, the camera on board SLIM was still able to capture images of the lunar surface. According to JAXA, one of the two main engines failed due to irregularities during the landing approach.

On Thursday, the agency expressed its satisfaction with the project despite problems related to power supply, as the landing took place very close to the intended target. After the former Soviet Union, the United States, China and India, Japan is the fifth country to achieve a soft landing on an Earth satellite.

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