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Japanese ‘lunar sniper’ will attempt historic moon landing

lunar sniper

Japan’s “Moon Sniper” (Lunar Sniper) is preparing to land on the moon at midnight on Saturday, January 20. Japan hopes to use precise positioning technology to become the fifth country to successfully achieve a soft landing on the moon’s rugged surface.

To date, only the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and India have successfully accomplished this feat.

The intelligent lander “SLIM,” built by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), was assigned this task and nicknamed the “Lunar Sniper.” The lander will use an intelligent recognition system to identify craters and softly land within 100 meters (330 feet) of the target, which is more precise than the usual landing zone of several kilometers.

JAXA said this is an unprecedented technology that is crucial to the search for lunar surface water and possible human habitation.

“SLIM” is scheduled to begin dropping at midnight Japan time on Saturday (1500 GMT on Friday). If all goes well, the landing will take place in about 20 minutes.

“SLIM” is also equipped with the ultra-small transforming robot “SORA-Q,” developed by the toy company Takara Tomy and others, in an attempt to explore the lunar surface with unprecedented design accuracy.

“SLIM” will release the separated “SORA-Q” before landing. “SORA-Q”, which is about the size of a baseball, will unfold its sphere on the lunar surface, travel in “butterfly march” and “crawling march,” and take pictures of the surrounding environment and “SLIM” after landing.

After two failed moon missions and a recent failed rocket launch, the mission, if successful, would reverse Japan’s fortunes in space and echo India’s space victory last August. India is the first country to successfully land a spacecraft on the south pole of the moon.

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Emily Brunsden, a senior lecturer in astronomy at the University of York, told the media that landing SLIM safely would be “a big deal” because the landing accuracy is a huge leap forward in technology and will allow for more specific designs. The task of researching the problem.

Brunsden warned that the mission (Lunar Sniper) is technically very challenging. “There is usually only one chance, and a small mistake may lead to mission failure.”

The key rock

“SLIM” will land near a crater on the moon, where it is It is thought that the moon’s mantle can be contacted from the surface.

“The rocks exposed here are crucial to the search for the origins of the moon and Earth,” said Tomoko Moroda, associate professor of lunar and planetary exploration at the University of Tokyo.

JAXA has achieved precise landings on asteroids before, but the moon’s gravity is stronger and the challenges are greater for the “Lunar Sniper.”

With the Lunar Sniper, Japan hopes to “demonstrate its role in space” and provide key information about the moon’s history, Moroda said.

The “Lunar Sniper” mission also has the ambition to unlock the mysteries of the Moon’s potential water resources, which will be key to one day establishing a base there.

“The possibility of commercializing the moon depends on whether there is water at the poles,” said Moroda.

Mankind is racing to return to the moon

More than 50 years after man’s first lunar landing, many countries and private companies are racing to return to the moon. However, forced landings, communication failures, and other technical problems are common.

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Earlier this month, the lunar lander “Peregrine,” built by the U.S. private space robotics company Astrobotic, exploded, leaked fuel shortly after separating from the rocket, and had to return. The latest news points out that the lander lost contact in the South Pacific shortly before 9 pm GMT on January 18 and may have burned up in the atmosphere.

The U.S. Space Agency (NASA) also announced this month that it would postpone its manned lunar mission under the Artemis program due to technical obstacles.

Last year, Russia launched a lunar exploration mission that had not been completed for half a century. However, the Luna 25 probe deviated from its planned orbit and crashed on the lunar surface, declaring failure.

Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to pursue his space dream. After “Chang’e-3” became China’s first spacecraft to successfully land on the moon in 2013, China is seeking to achieve a manned moon landing by 2030 and is exploring the construction of a base.

At the same time, South Korea is stepping up its efforts to become the next country to make lunar history, and the United Arab Emirates is also developing a lunar exploration rover and a space station airlock. The lunar space is expected to become increasingly lively.

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