Japan has launched a lunar exploration spacecraft H-II A carrying the lunar lander Smart Lander for Investigating Moon(SLIM) also known as Moon sniper on 7 September 2023 . Japan hopes to become the fifth country after Russia, the United States , China and India to land a lander on the Moon .
According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) the H-II A rocket carrying the SLIM lander successfully lifted off from Tanegashima Space Center on 7th September 2023 . The rocket successfully released the SLIM probe. Due to unfavourable weather conditions the mission was postponed thrice.
The launch comes two weeks after India became the fourth country in the world to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon with its Chandrayaan-3 mission. Around the same time, Russia's Luna-25 lander crashed while approaching the moon.
Japan’s Moon Mission
- The $100 million mission will attempt to land the lander SLIM in February 2024 on the surface of the moon .
- The Japanese space agency aims to land the moon sniper within 100 metres of its target site on the lunar surface .
- The SLIM will land on the near side of the moon close to Mare Nectaris. Mare Nectaris ,viewed from Earth, appears to be a dark spot . Its primary goal is to test advanced optical and image processing technology.
- After landing, the craft aims to analyse the composition of rocks near the sites in search of clues about the origin of the moon.
- However there is no lunar rover onboard the SLIM lander .
- Apart from SLIM ,the H-IIA rocket also carried the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) satellite. The XRISM satellite is a joint project of JAXA, American Space Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency.
- The satellite aims to observe plasma winds flowing through the universe that scientists see as key to helping understand the evolution of stars and galaxies.
Past Failure of Japan’s moon mission
- Two earlier lunar landing attempts by Japan failed in the last year. JAXA lost contact with the OMOTENASHI lander in November 2022 and the mission ended in failure
- The Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, made by a Japanese startup company crashed while attempting to land on the lunar surface.
Future Collaboration with India
- JAXA plans a joint Lunar Polar Exploration Mission (LUPEX) with the Indian Space Research Organisation . The Japanese H3 rocket will carry India's next lunar lander into space.
- The country also aims to send an astronaut to the moon's surface in the latter half of the 2020s as part of NASA's Artemis programme
Prime Minister of Japan : Fumio Kishida