It seems that nowadays you are nobody if you don’t put a rover on the Moon. After the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India, Japan wants to be next.
On September 7, it took off successfully Japan’s XRISM/SLIM mission, an original staging with very interesting objectives. It is going to release a technology that they have called Moon Sniperwell he wants land exactly at the assigned place, without detours.
The H-IIA F47 rocket took off at 8:42:11 a.m. (Japanese time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. It is already in the correct orbit heading to the Moon, as confirmed by the Maspalomas Control Station, in the Canary Islands.
It’s the first time we see a mission to the Moon with two different phases. In the first part of the mission, called XRISM, a satellite has been placed into orbit on Earth. And now the SLIM (Moon Intelligent Landing Module) mission takes place, with the aim of land with absolute precision.
A more precise way to land on the Moon
“The great objective of SLIM is to land where we want on the lunar surface, instead of landing where we can,” said Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA, the Japanese space agency, at a press conference. Easier said than done…
Landing on the Moon is very complicated (tell Russia). Landers are very small vehicles that weigh little. The Moon has low gravity, so it’s hard to stop, and the ground is full of craters and rocks.
Any small deviation in the descent of a few millimeters in orbit, or a few tenths of a second in a maneuver, can cause the module to crash. In the best case, it lands a few kilometers from the designated place.
Currently, that is the precision of the lunar landing: a few kilometers of margin. It is a major problem, because lunar rovers are vehicles that move very slowly, on the order of centimeters a day, and landing a kilometer from the chosen location can make it take months for the rover to get there, if it can at all.
The JAXA SLIM mission wants to reduce the landing margin to less than 100 metersquite an achievement.
To do this, he will use a completely different approach than usual, describing a parabola almost parallel to the ground, 7 kilometers high, to finally make a sharp turn in the exact place. Here you can see it:
It is a complicated and very ambitious landing. Something surprising, considering that JAXA already made a failed landing on the Moon a few years ago. But if he succeeds, he can inaugurate a new way of landing on another planet.
This precision is very important, now that the new missions have precise objectives, such as finding water, which only occurs in specific places.
Japan’s XRISM/SLIM mission wants to land on the Moon with sniper precision. But it will still take us a while to verify it. He will not carry out the maneuver until 2024.