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Following the success of India’s Chandrayaan-3, Japan sets sights on achieving its first-ever moon landing on January 20 with SLIM

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is on the verge of a historic achievement as its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) prepares for the first-ever lunar landing on January 20. If successful, Japan will join an elite group of nations that includes Russia, the United States, China, and India, as the fifth country to accomplish a soft landing on the moon.

The journey of SLIM, launched alongside the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), began in September with their deployment aboard a domestically produced H-IIA rocket from Japan. Measuring 2.7 meters in length, the SLIM craft has been reported to be operating smoothly, according to an official statement from JAXA.

Originally planned for January or February 2024, the lunar landing schedule has been advanced due to the seamless progress of operations. The revised date is now set for January 20, 2024, with the targeted landing site being the slope of Shioli Crater within Mare Nectaris on the near side of the moon. Positioned at 13 degrees south latitude and 25 degrees east longitude, this 300-meter-wide impact feature offers a relatively fresh terrain for exploration.

The primary objective of SLIM, nicknamed the “Moon Sniper” in Japanese, is to achieve a pinpoint landing with a remarkable accuracy goal of less than 100 meters. This precision landing on the moon is an unprecedented feat that could have significant implications for international space exploration endeavors.




How Chandrayaan-3's Success Can Help India Achieve Its Lunar Dreams |  Homegrown
How Chandrayaan-3’s Success Can Help India Achieve Its Lunar Dreams

Japan’s pursuit of lunar exploration has faced challenges in the past, with communication loss experienced during a landing attempt by the OMOTENASHI lander in November. Additionally, the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, operated by Japanese startup ispace, encountered a crash in April during its descent toward the lunar surface.

In the context of lunar exploration, India’s Chandrayaan-3, the third installment in the Chandrayaan program by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has embarked on a mission to explore the moon. The spacecraft, featuring a lunar lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan, successfully landed near the Lunar South Pole on August 23. India became the fourth nation to achieve a moon landing and the first to do so near the lunar south pole.

While Japan and India make strides in lunar exploration, SLIM’s upcoming mission signifies a significant milestone in space exploration, particularly with its focus on precision landing and potential contributions to future space missions. The successful execution of SLIM’s lunar landing on January 20 would not only mark Japan’s entry into lunar exploration history but also advance humanity’s understanding and capabilities in space exploration.

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