On January 19, 2024, the Japanese space agency’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), also known as the Lunar Sniper, successfully landed on the Moon. Japan became the fifth country in the world to make a soft landing on the Moon after the USSR, the United States, China, and India.

But after landing, things didn’t go so well. According to the latest JAXA reports, the SLIM lander is suffering from a lack of energy due to improper deployment of solar panels. On January 20, 2024, when the battery reserve dropped to 12%, the device shut down as planned to save energy for further attempts to restore the lander’s performance.

According to the telemetry data, SLIM’s solar panels are oriented to the lunar west, so when the Sun is on this side of the spacecraft, there is hope that the power supply will be restored and SLIM will come to life. Before the spacecraft shut down, the data and photos collected during the descent were transmitted to Earth for analysis.

JAXA promises to announce the fate of SLIM later this week, but for now says that despite the mishap after landing, the agency is satisfied with the mission’s results.

Japan became the fifth country to land on the moon. But the JAXA SLIM spacecraft lacks power

As a reminder, SLIM was launched on the night of September 6-7, 2023 from the Tanegashima Space Center aboard an H-IIA launch vehicle manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. SLIM’s goal was to land on the Moon with an accuracy of no more than 100 meters. For comparison, the Apollo 11 landing error was up to 20 km.

The SLIM lander carries two “rovers”. The first is the LEV-1 “jumper” with a thermometer, inclinometer, radiation monitor and two large-format cameras. The second is a very tiny LEV-2, weighing only 250 grams, which can change its shape and has two miniature cameras.

SLIM flew to the moon on a very long and complex energy-efficient trajectory, so it took almost 4 months instead of just days or weeks for other missions.