Japan has initiated a groundbreaking mission with the goal of achieving its first successful Moon landing, with the aim of precisely placing its compact lunar lander, the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), within 100 meters of the Moon’s surface.
The launch of the H2-A rocket, carrying the SLIM lander and a research satellite developed in collaboration with NASA and the European Space Agency, occurred at 8.42 am local time from Tanegashima in southern Japan.
This significant launch follows India’s recent achievement of successfully landing a spacecraft near the Moon’s south pole. Japan, which has faced previous setbacks in lunar missions, is now eager to join the ranks of nations capable of lunar exploration.
The SLIM lander represents a major advancement in precision landing technology, with the goal of providing humans with the capability to land exactly where they intend, rather than settling for less precise landing sites. If successful, this technology could pave the way for exploration of even more resource-scarce planets than the Moon.
Japan’s previous lunar endeavors, including the Omotenashi lunar probe, encountered challenges and communication losses. The launch of the SLIM lander aims to change the course of Japan’s lunar exploration efforts.
In addition, the rocket carried the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) into space, a collaborative project involving JAXA, NASA, and ESA.
XRISM’s high-resolution X-ray spectroscopic observations will provide valuable insights into the universe’s hot gas plasma wind, enabling researchers to study mass and energy flows, celestial object compositions, and their evolution.