Robot Explorer “Moon Sniper” from Japan Has Resumed Its Lunar Operations

The robotic explorer known as “Moon Sniper” from Japan has resumed its mission, the space agency of that nation announced on Monday. Ten days ago, a power outage forced the spacecraft to shut down upon landing on the moon.

On January 19, the explorer made history by successfully landing on the moon, becoming Japan the fifth nation to do so. However, a serious problem arose almost immediately after the touchdown.

According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), one of the spacecraft’s engines failed during landing, causing it to land facing the wrong way and forcing it to rely only on battery power because its solar cells were unable to produce electricity.

In an effort to preserve battery life, the agency turned off the lunar explorer, but promised that it would automatically turn back on if its solar panel started to produce electricity as the moon’s angle changed.

“We succeeded in establishing communication with (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM) last night and have resumed operations,” JAXA said on social networking site X on Monday.

It also said that the explorer has taken fresh pictures of the lunar surface.

According to the CIA, its mission can be deemed a “minimum success” at the very least because it used optical navigation to accomplish a soft and precise lunar landing. Japan now plans to use the lander to gather hitherto unheard-of data about the Sea of Nectar, an area of the moon.

The spacecraft landed close to a crater known as Shioli, which is named after a Japanese woman whose first name is pronounced “she-oh-lee.” Shioli is located roughly 200 miles (322 km) south of the Sea of Tranquilly, which is the area close to the lunar equator where Apollo 11 made its moon landing.

Over the past year, a number of space agencies and nations have tried moon landing missions, resulting in both a historic first and several failures.

After the United States, China, and the erstwhile Soviet Union, India was the fourth nation to carry out a controlled lunar landing when its Chandrayaan-3 mission reached close to the lunar south pole in August.

Countries’ ambition to access water stored as ice in continuously shadowed regions at the lunar south pole is one of the driving forces for the current space race on the moon. In the future, when humanity pushes the boundaries of space exploration, it might be used as fuel or drinking water.

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