Japan Conquers Moon: Slim Slim Reaches Satellite Orbit

Japanese spacecraft Slim (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon), known as Moon Sniper for its exceptional landing accuracy, has successfully entered lunar orbit. This milestone achievement brings Japan one step closer to its first successful lunar landing, expected to take place next month.

If the SLIM mission is successful, Japan will become the fifth country, following the USA, Russia, China, and India, to successfully land on the moon’s surface. On the evening of December 25, the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) announced the spacecraft’s entry into orbit at 04:51 in Tokyo. The probe is in good condition and is following its planned trajectory without any issues.

The descent is scheduled to start at midnight on January 20, Japan time, with the landing expected to occur 20 minutes later. The probe was launched on a H-IIa rocket in September from Tanegashima Island after being delayed multiple times due to adverse weather conditions.

JAXA previously stated that the SLIM mission aims for an “unprecedented accurate landing.” The spacecraft is equipped with a spherical probe, developed in collaboration with a local toy manufacturer. This tennis ball-sized probe can change its shape to navigate over uneven lunar terrain.

Unlike previous lunar missions, which landed several kilometers away from the intended target, Slim promises a landing accuracy within a radius of less than 100 meters. Such precision was previously considered unattainable.

Sinitiro Sakai, the project manager of SLIM at JAXA, highlighted how advancements in technology now allow scientists to set more specific objectives and study individual lunar features such as craters and rocks. “The times have changed from when simply reaching the moon was enough to consider the mission successful,” commented Sakai.

The precise landing will simplify the collection of lunar soil samples, providing scientists with a unique opportunity to study the composition and characteristics of the moon’s surface in greater detail. This research will enhance our understanding of local geological processes, including the distribution of water.

Japan has previously encountered failures in lunar missions twice. One attempt was by a private entity, while the other was government-funded. In 2022, the Omotenashi spacecraft, part of the American Mission Artemis 1, was unable to reach its target on the lunar surface. In April of the same year, the Japanese startup

/Reports, release notes, official announcements.