Japan's SLIM 'moon sniper' lander arrives in lunar orbit for Christmas

Japan’s SLIM ‘moon sniper’ lander arrives in lunar orbit for Christmas

science, technology By Dec 25, 2023 No Comments

Japan’s SLIM ‘moon sniper’ lander arrives in lunar orbit for Christmas

Japan’s robotic SLIM spacecraft reached a significant milestone by entering lunar orbit ahead of its planned moon touchdown attempt.

Arrival in Lunar Orbit

Japan’s robotic SLIM moon lander arrived in lunar orbit on Christmas Day as part of its scheduled mission, marking a historic achievement for the nation’s space exploration efforts. The spacecraft successfully inserted itself into lunar orbit at the planned time, confirming its progress toward the upcoming lunar touchdown attempt.

Key Achievements

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced the successful insertion of the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) into lunar orbit on December 25, 2023, positioning the spacecraft for its upcoming endeavor. SLIM’s elliptical orbit around the moon, with points as close as 373 miles and as far as 2,485 miles from the lunar surface, highlights the precision and strategic planning behind the mission.

Historic Endeavor

SLIM’s anticipated lunar touchdown on January 19 holds significant historical implications, as it seeks to join the exclusive club of nations that have achieved soft-landings on the moon, which currently includes the Soviet Union, the U.S., China, and India. If successful, Japan’s SLIM will make history with its precise and controlled landing attempt.

Preparations and Significance

SLIM, also known as the “Moon Sniper,” aims to demonstrate pinpoint landing technology, with an accuracy target of 330 feet or less. The mission not only serves as a crucial test for lunar landing technology but also paves the way for future ambitious exploration endeavors that will expand our understanding of the lunar surface and contribute to advancements in space exploration technologies.

Mission Description

SLIM’s mission description highlights its role in researching pinpoint landing technology for future lunar probes, providing an opportunity to advance the capability of landing in precise locations on planetary bodies, particularly those that are resource-scarce. The successful execution of this mission could potentially open doors for missions to planets with even fewer resources than the moon.

Additional Objectives

In addition to the lunar touchdown attempt, SLIM will deploy two miniprobes onto the lunar surface to capture images, monitor SLIM’s status, and establish an independent communication system for direct communication with Earth. These objectives demonstrate the comprehensive nature of the mission and the potential for valuable data collection and communication capabilities.

Past and Future Endeavors

Japan’s SLIM spacecraft follows in the footsteps of previous Japanese lunar missions, including Hiten in 1990 and SELENE (“Kaguya”) in 2007. With the recent arrival of the Hakuto-R lander in lunar orbit, Japan continues to expand its presence and expertise in lunar exploration.


The arrival of Japan’s SLIM moon lander in lunar orbit on Christmas Day marks a significant milestone in the nation’s space exploration journey. As it prepares for its historic moon touchdown attempt, SLIM has the potential to contribute valuable data and pave the way for future ambitious space exploration endeavors, demonstrating Japan’s commitment to advancing scientific knowledge and technological capabilities in lunar exploration.

Source: space

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