JAXA says they hope sun will recharge lunar lander’s solar panels
by Clyde Hughes
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 22, 2024
Japanese space officials said on Monday that they hope the lunar lander that arrived on the moon’s surface on Friday will regain power once the sun hits the spacecraft’s solar cells from the west.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said the solar cells of its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, are facing the west, according to its telemetry data. Theoretically, the solar cells should power up when the sun rises from the west, Japanese space officials said.
“There is a possibility of generating power and we are preparing for recover, SLIM can operate with power only from the solar cells, JAXA said.
The lander successfully made its soft landing on the moon Friday, but it currently remains shut down because of its lack of energy.
JAXA said on Friday that SLIM was still sending a signal, which is allowing them to diagnose the power issues with it. Officials said they are preparing for when the spacecraft does come back online.
“We’re currently conducting a detailed analysis and are relieved to see that we obtained a lot of data,” the agency said.
SLIM’s onboard battery can run its spacecraft’s functions for only a few hours without solar power.
“After landing … power from the solar cells could not be confirmed,” JAXA said. “At a battery level of 12%, the battery disconnected (as planned) to avoid being unable to restart for are recovery operation due to over-discharge.”
Despite the challenges, Japan still made history as the only the fifth country to make a soft landing on the moon. They join the United States, Russia, China and India.
The agency said it hopes the mission can be a step that leads to future endeavors allowing it to move away from “landing where we can” and begin instead “landing where we want.”