Japan switched off its Moon lander almost three hours after a historic touchdown on Saturday, to allow for a possible recovery of the craft, the space agency said Monday.
“If sunlight hits the Moon from the west in the future, we believe there’s a possibility of power generation, and we’re currently preparing for restoration,” the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said in a statement.
The mission of the spacecraft dubbed the “Moon Sniper” for its precision landing capabilities made Japan only the fifth country to ever achieve a soft lunar landing.
But after the touchdown at twenty minutes past midnight, JAXA was unable to confirm that the craft’ssolar batteries were generating power, it said.
“The battery was disconnected according to our procedures with 12 percent power remaining, in order to avoid a situation where the restart (of the lander) would be hampered,” it said.
“As a result, the spacecraft was switched off at 2:57 (JST).”
The agency is now carrying out detailed analysis of data acquired during the landing, it said.
That will help determine whether the craft achieved the aim of landing within 100 metres (yards) of its intended landing spot.
The “Moon Sniper” mission, officially titled the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), was aiming for a crater where the Moon’s mantle, the usually deep inner layer beneath its crust, is believed to be exposed on the surface.
“We were able to complete the transmission of technical and image data acquired during the descent and on the lunar surface before the power was switched off,” JAXA said.
“We’re relieved and beginning to get excited after confirming a lot of data has been obtained,” it said, adding that “according to the telemetry data, SLIM’s solar cells are facing west.”
JAXA added that it was preparing to make further announcements this week on the results of the mission and the status of the SLIM craft.
“The post-landing posture didn’t go as planned, but we may be able to produce plenty of results and we’re happy that the landing succeeded.”
SLIM is one of several new lunar missions launched by governments and private firms, 50 years after the first human Moon landing.
Crash landings and communication failures are rife, and only four other countries have made it to the Moon: the United States, the Soviet Union, China and most recently India.
Source: Thanks france24