Japan becomes the fifth nation to land on the moon

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H2A rocket lawnch at Tanegashima island Japan

Japan has successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon, making it the fifth country to do so. However, a power supply issue has put the mission at risk.

The spacecraft, called Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon (Slim), touched down on the lunar surface but engineers discovered that the solar cells were not functioning properly. The craft is currently running on batteries, which will only last for a few hours.

The priority now is for Slim to gather as much moon data as possible before the batteries die. The mission’s main goal is to test new landing technology that would allow moon missions to land in specific locations rather than just where it is easy to land.

Slim was designed to achieve a pin-point landing with a landing zone of 100 meters. Previous missions have aimed for a target of 10km. While it is still unclear if Slim made a pin-point landing, data from its movements suggest that it likely did.

Slim is also designed to find clues about the origin of the moon. It aimed to land near the Shioli crater, near a region covered in volcanic rock.

Japan’s successful landing comes just 10 days after a US private firm’s moon mission failed. Japan has had its own space technology failures in the past, but if Slim has achieved a pin-point landing, it could boost Japan’s profile in the global space technology race.

There is still hope that Slim can generate electricity if the solar angle changes. Japan follows the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and India in reaching the moon.

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