A rocket carrying the SLIM lunar probe, with which Japan intends to carry out the country’s first landing, took off this Thursday, after three postponements since the end of August due to unfavorable weather conditions.
According to the live broadcast of the launch, the 47th H2A rocket, operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, left according to foreseenat 8:42 am (0h42 in Lisbon), from a base in Tanegashima, in the southwest of the country.
A probe lunar SLIM successfully separated of the H2A rocket, 53 meters long and four meters in diameter, about 45 minutes after take-off, causing an explosion of joy and applause in the control centre.
The probe, dubbed the Moon Sniper (Lunar Shooter), you must enter Earth’s natural satellite orbit in about three or four months and shall land in six months.
SLIM will attempt to land near the Shioli crater, near the lunar equator, in the “most accurate landing” yet, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.
JAXA intends to land the SLIM a maximum of 100 meters from the target, to avoid steep slopes and uneven terrain, not least because the suitable areas for exploring the polar regions of the Moon “are limited to a very small area”.
If it manages to land on the moon, Japan will be the fifth country to do soand the data obtained will be used in the international North American Artemis project, which aims to land astronauts on the Moon and, ultimately, the exploration of Mars.
In August, India successfully landed its first spacecraft on the Moon, joining the United States, Soviet Union and China.
India made history: it overtook Russia and managed to land on the south pole of the moon. “Success belongs to all humanity”, said Modi
Russia, for its part, has just failed in a new attempt, with its probe Luna-25 crashing on the 19th of August on the lunar soil.
Luna-25, the first Russian mission to the Moon in nearly 50 years, crashed into the surface before landing
The take-off of the H2A was followed live by more than 35,000 people on the YouTube platform, a sign of the enthusiasm generated by this dual mission.
The H2A also carried a new observation satelliteX-ray spacecraft, called XRISM, put into orbit around Earth 13 minutes after launch to investigate the evolution of the universe and space-time.
The satellite will explore the winds of plasma gases that blow through galaxies, a vestige of the birth and death of stars. Studying the X-rays emitted by this gas can help draw a map of how it spread across the universe.
The mission also intends to measure the X-ray light emitted by immensely dense objects, such as the black holes found at the centers of some galaxies, to help understand how they warp the spacetime around them and how they affect galaxies.
XRISM was developed jointly with the US space agency NASA, representing an important evolution in Japan’s satellite program.