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Japan’s SLIM Spacecraft Successfully Analyzes 10 Lunar Rocks, Providing Clues to Moon’s Origins

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA — An unmanned spacecraft in moon captured and transmitted data analyzing 10 lunar rocks. This is a larger-than-expected achievement that could help provide clues about the moon’s origins.

For four days, the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon or SLIM, which landed on the moon last month, used a multi-band spectral camera to study rock composition. “SLIM is trying to examine lunar rocks,” said Project Manager of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Shinichiro Sakai, quoted from the website NPR on Wednesday (14/2/2024).

The mission to the moon was Japan’s first. This spacecraft made a historic landing on January 20, 2024, although the landing went wrong, the solar panels were initially unable to see the sun and were turned off after a short communication with Earth. But on the eighth day, it began functioning, allowing it to successfully re-establish communications with the command center at JAXA on Earth.

Black-and-white photos sent immediately after SLIM was reactivated show lunar surface wavy, including six rocks. The aircraft eventually obtained data from 10 rocks, all of which had been given the names of dog breeds, such as Akitainu, Beagle, and Shibainu.

“We hope that analysis of these rocks will lead us to the origins of the moon,” said Sakai.

By comparing the mineral composition of lunar and Earth rocks, they can find out whether the rocks contain the same elements or not. According to the “giant impact” hypothesis, the moon is believed to have formed as a result of Earth’s collision with another planet, and a smaller mass was ejected from the planet.

The JAXA team expects SLIM to study and analyze just one rock. They have data on 10 rocks and it is worth celebrating that it encourages the team to continue studying the origins of the moon.

SLIM is currently hibernating during another lunar night that will last until the end of February 2024. It remains unknown whether the probe and its spectroscope will survive the frigid night temperatures and be able to “wake up” once sunlight returns.

The spacecraft landed about 55 meters (60 yards) from its target, near the Shioli crater, an area covered in volcanic rock. This is the most precise landing compared to previous lunar missions which usually aimed at a flat area at least 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide.

“If the lander does not experience a last-minute failure in one of the two main engines that makes the landing more difficult than planned, SLIM’s landing is expected to be within a few meters of the target,” JAXA said.

SLIM carried two autonomous probes that released shortly before landing, recording the landing, surrounding environment and other lunar data. The two small probes have completed their mission to record SLIM’s initial work and have since stopped working. The landing made Japan the fifth country in the world to reach the moon, after the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India.

2024-02-15 14:54:06
#Japanese #Space #Agency #Claims #Clues #Origin #Moon #Republika #Online

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