Despite significant challenges, Japan’s SLIM lander managed to power on and transmit a final image before entering a dormant state during the lunar night. Seemingly down for the count after initially landing upside down, the lander’s ability to recover was already viewed as a remarkable feat. Unfortunately, the harsh conditions of the lunar night, which can reach temperatures below -200 degrees Fahrenheit, make it unlikely that the lander will be able to wake up once again. Despite this, the team plans to attempt restarting operations in mid-February when the lunar night ends and the Sun can once again power SLIM’s solar cells. This photo, if it proves to be SLIM’s last, is a hauntingly fitting conclusion to its unexpected journey.
The Japanese space agency’s team has verified that, although SLIM has entered a dormant state, they intend to try to revive it once more when it is exposed to sunlight again. The SLIM lander’s original design did not account for such extreme lunar conditions, making its successful reactivation and subsequent struggle all the more surprising. Although the odds of it regaining functionality are low, the lander has shown resilience before and may well continue to do so. If indeed the team’s final image of the moon’s Shioli crater marks the end of the lander’s mission, it is an eerie yet fitting conclusion to an unexpected odyssey.
The striking recovery of Japanese SLIM lander, which briefly lost contact with mission control after landing upside down on the lunar surface, is complemented by news that it has since gone dormant. With the lunar night lasting nearly two Earth weeks and temperatures dipping below -200 degrees Fahrenheit, the chances of SLIM reviving once again are slim. However, JAXA’s intrepid team is intent on trying to restart the lander’s operations when the Sun eventually shines on SLIM’s solar cells in mid-February, holding onto the possibility that the lunar night may not be the end of the road for the miraculous spacecraft. At the very least, it’s clear that this latest photo serves as a potential finish to its extraordinary odyssey if it is ultimately unable to awaken once more.