The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) achieved a major milestone when its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) landed on the Moon on January 19, 2024. Japan is now the fifth country to accomplish a soft lunar landing, proving the precision landing capabilities developed by JAXA.
The SLIM mission, focussed on the SLIM lander, is often referred to as the “Moon Sniper,” demonstrated an unusually accurate touchdown within 100 meters of its intended target on the moon’s surface. This level of precision in lunar landing opens up new possibilities for future missions to explore specific areas of the moon with high scientific interest. However, the actual SLIM lander, in skate boarding terminology, conducted a faceplant landing, and its nose is in the lunar regolith for eternity.
Before landing it did release two unique rovers, LEV-1 and LEV-2.
LEV-2, better known as Sora-Q.
Sora-Q rover is a remarkable lunar explorer. It was developed in collaboration between JAXA and major toymaker Tomy. It has a compact size, (8 centimetres in diameter and weighing just 250 grams) and has an innovative spherical design and capabilities. It is tasked with transmitting photographs back to Earth, which it has done.
This venture proves the potential for space resources missions as its jobs is lunar exploration and the utilization of lunar resources, leading to space mining.
Below is an actual image of Japan’s lunar lander faceplanted in the Moon’s surface, taken by SORA-Q, which was successfully released before the craft’s.