Japan became the fifth country to reach the moon, in an unprecedented scientific event. But the event was not without its hiccups: although the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) initially declared the SLIM mission a success, the live broadcast was then cut off. Hours later, the responsible team explained that since the ship was poorly oriented on the lunar soil, it could have run out of energy to operate. So far, the connection with Earth is working and “there is hope” that the entire system will be re-established, he said in a press conference. In any case, Japan joins the United States, Russia, China and India on the list of countries that have conquered the moon at least once.
SLIM, which was launched in September and entered lunar orbit at Christmas, began its descent around midnight in Japan at a speed of 1,700 meters per second and was able to land on the surface in 20 minutes. I did it thanks to him “Smart Eyes” system: Cameras equipped with image recognition software, allowing them to report and avoid obstacles. In fact, this is its main virtue and distinguishing mark: the module known colloquially as the “Lunar Sniper” not only had to land on the Moon, but it also had to do so precisely in the place it had planned. In theory, the precision landing system represents a difference from successful missions in the past that left a wider margin when landing on the satellite's surface.
a Advanced moon landing mechanism This is explained in a very concrete way: while previous missions proposed large landing areas of at least 10 km, this mission left only a margin of 100 metres. Thus, it was possible to reach the Shiuli crater area near the Sea of Nectar, which is characterized by the presence of volcanic rocks. from here, It will analyze the minerals found in the place, with the aim of its study providing more evidence about the origin of the satellite. However, this is missing: we first have to see if it is in a position to work as planned.
Robots and games
SLIM carries on board two robots the size of a microwave and a tennis ball, equipped with cameras, thermometers and intercoms to let you know in real time what information they are extracting. From the ground, the team of engineers and specialists will be responsible for evaluating how their work will proceed from now on.
One of the curious things is that in the manufacture of technologies, in addition to JAXA, Sony and Doshisha University, the toy manufacturer Takara Tomy was involved. According to reports, the company was instrumental in designing one of the lunar exploration robots, inspired – in part – by Star Wars-style robots.
The goal is to launch smart technologies into space that will allow more precise approaches to the Moon. Satellite exploration will be key in confirming the existence of water and other natural resources that can be used in the coming decades and enhancing air transportation. In a few years, it could become the moon, to which poets and lovers devoted their time Satellite service station.
Fifth in dispute
First there were ships, then airplanes, and now spaceships: thus the great powers were perfecting, as centuries passed and progressed, means of transport for the conquest of previously unimaginable latitudes. Right now, Japan is reminding the United States and Russia that this is not a bipolar world in which there are only two actors capable of building technologies to reach the natural moon, but rather that the planet is witnessing a multipolar present. These two countries were joined by China and India: The Asian giant's last mission was the Chang'e 4 probe, which was placed on the dark side of the moon in January 2019. While India did the same in August 2023 with the Chandrayaan-3 mission.
This week, the United States suffered a major setback when the Peregrino 1 spacecraft — a special mission supported by NASA — failed in its attempt to reach the moon. He looked to do just that half a century later, and the technology pioneered by Astrobotics ended up in the Pacific. Although the North American Space Agency stated on that occasion that “every mission is an opportunity to learn,” it cannot be hidden that preparation for the Artemis project is not going as expected.
In 2025, Japan and India are already working on a joint mission to send new robots to the moon. The competition in space is fierce and more and more players are asking for clues and daring to do the impossible.