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Japan’s SLIM set for historic moon landing on Jan 20

AsiaJapan's SLIM set for historic moon landing on Jan 20

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has confirmed that its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) is in the final stages of preparation for a historic landing scheduled on January 20.

JAXA transitioned to the landing descent phase on January 10 after the lander entered lunar orbit. The space agency successfully executed the crucial apolune (the furthest point from the lunar surface) descent maneuver on January 14. Currently positioned in a stable circular orbit at the targeted altitude of 600 kilometers, SLIM is gearing up for the next critical step – lowering the perilune, the closest point to the lunar surface. This maneuver, scheduled for January 19, will bring SLIM within 15 kilometers of the Moon. The final descent is set to commence on January 20, with the anticipated touchdown at 0:20 JST, potentially marking a groundbreaking achievement for Japan’s space program.

Launched in September 2023, SLIM carries the ambitious mission of showcasing precision lunar landing capabilities. Its lightweight design holds immense potential for future missions, enabling more frequent lunar expeditions and the exploration of moons orbiting other planets, such as Mars. The success of SLIM’s landing, as envisioned by JAXA, could revolutionize space exploration, shifting from “landing where we can” to “landing where we want.”

If all proceeds as planned, Japan will join the exclusive group of nations that have achieved a soft landing on the Moon, including the United States, Russia, China, and India. This accomplishment will signify a significant milestone in JAXA’s lunar ambitions, paving the way for even more exciting ventures in the cosmos.

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