June 5, 2023 – Today in New York City In a groundbreaking announcement, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) unveiled the highly anticipated lunar probe, SLIM, to the media. Led by project director Shinichiro Sakai, JAXA revealed their ambitious plans to launch SLIM using the Japanese-made H2A rocket after August, marking Japan’s third attempt to conquer the moon.
The media briefing took place at the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. SLIM, standing at an impressive 2.4 meters in height, 2.7 meters in width, and 1.7 meters in depth, weighs a staggering 200 kilograms. Sakai highlighted JAXA’s advantage in precise landing capabilities, with a remarkable landing accuracy of within 100 meters. This is made possible through the advanced technology of “precision positioning landing,” wherein the probe captures images of the lunar surface and compares them with pre-loaded lunar maps, making adjustments to its landing trajectory. With this cutting-edge technology, SLIM will have the capability to target and land on specific features like slopes and other challenging terrains.
In contrast, traditional probes rely on ground-based commands and propulsion for landing, resulting in kilometer-scale inaccuracies. Consequently, landing in open and flat regions is usually preferred for safer touchdown.
If successful, Japan will become the fourth nation to achieve a lunar landing, joining the ranks of the former Soviet Union, the United States, and China. JAXA’s SLIM mission represents a significant step forward in Japan’s space exploration endeavors, showcasing their technological advancements and determination to explore new frontiers beyond Earth’s confines.