TOKYO, Japan – The SLIM lander, sent to the moon by Japan’s space agency JAXA, has defied the odds by turning back on after landing upside down on the lunar surface. Despite this impressive feat, the lander has now gone dormant for the duration of the lunar night, raising doubts about its ability to revive.
The SLIM team from JAXA shared the last image the lander captured before dusk, as it prepared to weather the lunar night at the moon’s Shioli crater. The lunar night lasts the equivalent of two Earth weeks and can bring temperatures colder than -200 degrees Fahrenheit.
After sending a command to switch on SLIM’s communicator with no response, the team confirmed that the lander had entered a dormant state. The team has acknowledged that the solar powered lander is not designed for the harsh lunar nights, and its chances of resuming operations afterward aren’t favorable. However, they remain hopeful to try to operate again from mid-February when the Sun will shine again on SLIM’s solar cells.
With the possibility of the current image being the last captured by SLIM, the situation holds an eerie significance. The lander’s remarkable reactivation has left the team hopeful for its revival once again. Whether SLIM will be able to overcome the challenges posed by the lunar night remains to be seen.