Japan is trying to land an unmanned device on the moon on Friday. If successful, Japan will be the fifth country ever to do so, after the former Soviet Union, the United States, China and India. An attempt by a Japanese company failed last year, and an American commercial flight failed last week. The landing attempt is scheduled to take place at 4:20 pm Belgium time.
The lander was launched from Japan in September. It’s called SLIM, which stands for Smart Lander for Investigating Moon. This is the Japanese space agency JAXA’s first mission to the moon’s surface. Japan had previously placed two satellites in orbit around the moon.
SLIM was designed primarily to test a new landing technology. Thanks to a kind of facial recognition, he should recognize the craters on the moon. This determines its location. It also searches for dangerous rocks on the surface. He can then decide to make the adjustments himself.
Japan hopes this will make the lander more precise: it must land within 100 meters of the designated landing site. “No country has succeeded in achieving this,” says the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Other ships sometimes landed tens of kilometers away from the intended location.
If successful, Japanese technology could help with future missions to the moon. Explorers do not necessarily have to go to flat areas without threats, but they can also visit hills and craters of the moon. There may be more water there, which is necessary for manned missions.
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