Chinese spaceclaft rands on moon

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China sends astronauts to 'Celestial Palace' in historic space mission
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Publishing date:Nov 29, 2022 • 1 day ago • 2 minute read

BEIJING — China sent a spacecraft carrying three astronauts to its space station for the first in-orbit crew rotation in Chinese space history, launching operation of the second inhabited outpost in low-earth orbit after the NASA-led International Space Station.


The spacecraft Shenzhou-15, or “Divine Vessel,” and its three passengers lifted off atop a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre at 11:08 p.m. (1508 GMT) on Tuesday amid sub-freezing temperatures in the Gobi Desert in northwest China, according to state television.


Shenzhou-15 was the last of 11 missions, including three prior crewed missions, that began in April 2021 needed to assemble the “Celestial Palace,” as the multi-module station is known in Chinese.

The trio will take over from the Shenzhou-14 crew who arrived in early June. The previous crew members are expected to return to Earth in early December after a one-week handover that will also establish the station’s ability to temporarily sustain six astronauts, another record for China’s space program.


The space outpost took on its current “T” shape in November with the arrival of the last of three cylindrical modules.

The Long March-2F rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-15 spacecraft, is transferred to the launching area at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center near Jiuquan, Gansu province, China Nov. 21, 2022.
The Long March-2F rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-15 spacecraft, is transferred to the launching area at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center near Jiuquan, Gansu province, China Nov. 21, 2022. PHOTO BY CNSPHOTO /via REUTERS
The station has a designed lifespan of at least a decade, with resident astronauts expected to conduct over 1,000 scientific experiments – from studying how plants adapt in space to how fluids behave in microgravity.

The “Celestial Palace” was the culmination of nearly two decades of Chinese crewed missions to space. China’s manned space flights began in 2003 when a former fighter pilot, Yang Liwei, was sent into orbit in a small bronze-colored capsule, the Shenzhou-5, and became China’s first man in space and an instant hero cheered by millions at home.

The space station was also an emblem of China’s growing clout and confidence in its space endeavors and a challenger to the United States in the domain, after being isolated from the NASA-led ISS and banned by U.S. law from any collaboration, direct or indirect, with the U.S. space agency.

The Shenzhou-15 mission, during which its crew will live and work on the space station for six months, also offered the nation a rare moment to celebrate, at a time of widespread unhappiness over China’s stifling zero-COVID policies while its economy hits the brakes amid uncertainties at home and abroad.

“Long live the motherland!” many Chinese netizens wrote on social media.
 
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spaminator

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Japanese company's lander rockets toward moon with UAE rover
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Publishing date:Dec 11, 2022 • 1 day ago • 3 minute read
Image from simulation video of the HAKUTO-R commercial lunar lander.
Image from simulation video of the HAKUTO-R commercial lunar lander. PHOTO BY ISPACE /supplied
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A Tokyo company aimed for the moon with its own private lander Sunday, blasting off atop a SpaceX rocket with the United Arab Emirates’ first lunar rover and a toylike robot from Japan that’s designed to roll around up there in the gray dust.

It will take nearly five months for the lander and its experiments to reach the moon.


The company ispace designed its craft to use minimal fuel to save money and leave more room for cargo. So it’s taking a slow, low-energy path to the moon, flying 1.6 million kilometres from Earth before looping back and intersecting with the moon by the end of April.

By contrast, NASA’s Orion crew capsule with test dummies took five days to reach the moon last month. The lunar flyby mission ended Sunday with a thrilling Pacific splashdown.

The ispace lander will aim for Atlas crater in the northeastern section of the moon’s near side, more than 87 kilometres across and just over 2 kilometres deep. With its four legs extended, the lander is more than 7 feet (2.3 metres) tall.

With a science satellite already around Mars, the UAE wants to explore the moon, too. Its rover, named Rashid after Dubai’s royal family, weighs just 22 pounds (10 kilograms) and will operate on the surface for about 10 days, like everything else on the mission.

Emirates project manager Hamad AlMarzooqi said landing on an unexplored part of the moon will yield “novel and highly valued” scientific data. In addition, the lunar surface is “an ideal platform” to test new tech that can be used for eventual human expeditions to Mars.

Plus there’s national pride — the rover represents “a pioneering national endeavor in the space sector and a historic moment that, if successful, will be the first Emirati and Arab mission to land on the surface of the moon,” he said in a statement following liftoff.

In addition, the lander is carrying an orange-sized sphere from the Japanese Space Agency that will transform into a wheeled robot on the moon. Also flying: a solid state battery from a Japanese-based spark plug company; an Ottawa, Ontario, company’s flight computer with artificial intelligence for identifying geologic features seen by the UAE rover; and 360-degree cameras from a Toronto-area company.

Hitching a ride on the rocket was a small NASA laser experiment that is now bound for the moon on its own to hunt for ice in the permanently shadowed craters of the lunar south pole.

The ispace mission is called Hakuto, Japanese for white rabbit. In Asian folklore, a white rabbit is said to live on the moon. A second lunar landing by the private company is planned for 2024 and a third in 2025.

Article content
Founded in 2010, ispace was among the finalists in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition requiring a successful landing on the moon by 2018. The lunar rover built by ispace never launched.

Another finalist, an Israeli nonprofit called SpaceIL, managed to reach the moon in 2019. But instead of landing gently, the spacecraft Beresheet slammed into the moon and was destroyed.

With Sunday’s predawn launch from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, ispace is now on its way to becoming one of the first private entities to attempt a moon landing. Although not launching until early next year, lunar landers built by Pittsburgh’s Astrobotic Technology and Houston’s Intuitive Machines may beat ispace to the moon thanks to shorter cruise times.

Only Russia, the U.S. and China have achieved so-called “soft landings” on the moon, beginning with the former Soviet Union’s Luna 9 in 1966. And only the U.S. has put astronauts on the lunar surface: 12 men over six landings.

Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of astronauts’ last lunar landing, by Apollo 17’s Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt on Dec. 11, 1972.

NASA’s Apollo moonshots were all “about the excitement of the technology,” said ispace founder and CEO Takeshi Hakamada, who wasn’t alive then. Now, “it’s the excitement of the business.”

“This is the dawn of the lunar economy,” Hakamada noted in the SpaceX launch webcast. “Let’s go to the moon.”

Liftoff should have occurred two weeks ago, but was delayed by SpaceX for extra rocket checks.

Eight minutes after launch, the recycled first-stage booster landed back at Cape Canaveral under a near full moon, the double sonic booms echoing through the night.

— The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
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New source of water found in moon samples from China mission
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Published Mar 27, 2023 • 2 minute read

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Scientists have discovered a new and renewable source of water on the moon for future explorers in lunar samples from a Chinese mission.


Water was embedded in tiny glass beads in the lunar dirt where meteorite impacts occur. These shiny, multicolored glass beads were in samples returned from the moon by China in 2020.


The beads range in size from the width of one hair to several hairs; the water content was just a miniscule fraction of that, said Hejiu Hui of Nanjing University, who took part in the study.

Since there are billions if not trillions of these impact beads, that could amount to substantial amounts of water, but mining it would be tough, according to the team.

“Yes, it will require lots and lots of glass beads,” Hui said in an email. “On the other hand, there are lots and lots of beads on the moon.”

These beads could continually yield water thanks to the constant bombardment by hydrogen in the solar wind. The findings, published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience, are based on 32 glass beads randomly selected from lunar dirt returned from the Chang’e 5 moon mission.


More samples will be studied, Hui said.

These impact beads are everywhere, the result of the cooling of melted material ejected by incoming space rocks. Water could be extracted by heating the beads, possibly by future robotic missions. More studies are needed to determine whether this would be feasible and, if so, whether the water would be safe to drink.

This shows “water can be recharged on the moon’s surface … a new water reservoir on the moon,” Hui said.

Previous studies found water in glass beads formed by lunar volcanic activity, based on samples returned by the Apollo moonwalkers more than a half-century ago. These, too, could provide water not only for use by future crews, but for rocket fuel.

NASA aims to put astronauts back on the lunar surface by the end of 2025. They’ll aim for the south pole where permanently shadowed craters are believed to be packed with frozen water.
 

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China wants to start using moon soil to build lunar bases as soon as this decade
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Published Apr 12, 2023 • 1 minute read

BEIJING — China wants to start building a lunar base using soil from the moon in five years, Chinese media reported, with the ambitious plan kicking off as soon as this decade.


More than 100 Chinese scientists, researchers and space contractors recently met at a conference in the central Chinese city of Wuhan to discuss ways to build infrastructure on the moon, local media reported.


Ding Lieyun, an expert from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said a team is designing a robot named “Chinese Super Masons” to make bricks out of lunar soil, according to Changjiang Daily.

“Building a habitat on the moon is needed for long-term lunar explorations, and will certainly be realized in the future,” Ding said, while acknowledging the difficulty of achieving it in the short term, according to the report.

The robot tasked with making the “lunar soil brick” will be launched during China’s Chang’e-8 mission around 2028, Ding said, adding that the country is aiming to retrieve the world’s first soil sample from the far side of the moon in a mission around 2025.

China previously retrieved soil samples from the near side of the moon with its Chang’e-5 mission in 2020, state media reported.

The country has stated that it wants its astronauts to stay on the moon for long periods once it establishes a lunar research station.

Ding and dozens of experts were attending the Extraterrestrial Construction Conference held at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan this past weekend.
 

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China's Mars rover likely idled by sunlight-blocking dust: Designer
Zhurong was expected to have woken up in December

Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Published Apr 25, 2023 • 1 minute read
Chinese rover Zhurong of the Tianwen-1 mission drives down the ramp of the lander onto the surface of Mars, in this screenshot taken from a video released by China National Space Administration (CNSA) May 22, 2021.
Chinese rover Zhurong of the Tianwen-1 mission drives down the ramp of the lander onto the surface of Mars, in this screenshot taken from a video released by China National Space Administration (CNSA) May 22, 2021. PHOTO BY CNSA /REUTERS
BEIJING — China’s fully robotic rover on Mars, in longer-than-expected hibernation since May 2022, likely met with excessive accumulation of sand and dust, its mission designer said, breaking months of silence about the status of the vehicle.


The motorized rover Zhurong, named after a mythical Chinese god of fire, was expected to have woken up in December after entering a planned sleep mode in May 2022 as falling solar radiation with the advent of winter cut its power generation.


“We have not had any communication from the rover since it entered hibernation,” said Zhang Rongqiao, chief designer of China’s Mars exploration program. “We are monitoring it every day and believe it has not woken up because the sunlight has not yet reached the minimum level for power generation.”

An unforeseen pile-up of dust most likely affected power generation and Zhurong’s ability to wake up, Chinese state television reported on Tuesday, quoting Zhang.

A camera on board a NASA probe orbiting Mars showed the Chinese rover had not moved since at least September, according to official images.


The 240-kg (530-pound) Zhurong, which has six scientific instruments including a high-resolution topography camera, was tasked with studying the planet’s surface soil and atmosphere after landing with no mishap in May 2021.

Powered by solar energy, Zhurong also looked for signs of ancient life, including any subsurface water and ice, using a ground-penetrating radar.

The rover had explored the Martian surface for 358 days and traveled for 1,921 meters (2,100 yards), Zhang said, far exceeding its original mission time-span of three months.

Aside from Zhurong, two other robotic rovers have been operating on Mars – NASA’s Perseverance and Curiosity, with the former roaming the planet’s surface for more than two years and the latter for over a decade.
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'High probability' lander crashed on moon, says Japanese company
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Published Apr 25, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read
A model of the lander in HAKUTO-R lunar exploration program by "ispace" is pictured at a venue to monitor its landing on the Moon, in Tokyo, Japan, April 26, 2023.
A model of the lander in HAKUTO-R lunar exploration program by "ispace" is pictured at a venue to monitor its landing on the Moon, in Tokyo, Japan, April 26, 2023. PHOTO BY KIM KYUNG-HOON /REUTERS
A Japanese company’s spacecraft apparently crashed while attempting to land on the moon Wednesday, losing contact moments before touchdown and sending flight controllers scrambling to figure out what happened.


More than six hours after communication ceased, the Tokyo company ispace finally confirmed what everyone had suspected, saying there was “a high probability” that the lander had slammed into the moon.


It was a disappointing setback for ispace, which after a 4 1/2-month mission had been on the verge of doing what only three countries have done: successfully land a spacecraft on the moon.

Takeshi Hakamada, founder and CEO of ispace, held out hope even after contact was lost as the lander descended the final 33 feet (10 metres). Flight controllers peered at their screens in Tokyo as minutes went by with only silence from the moon.

A grim-faced team surrounded Hakamada as he announced that the landing likely failed.


Official word finally came in a statement: “It has been determined that there is a high probability that the lander eventually made a hard landing on the moon’s surface.”

If all had gone well, ispace would have been the first private business to pull off a lunar landing. Hakamada vowed to try again, saying a second moonshot is already in the works for next year.

Only three governments have successfully touched down on the moon: Russia, the United States and China. An Israeli nonprofit tried to land on the moon in 2019, but its spacecraft was destroyed on impact.

“If space is hard, landing is harder,” tweeted Laurie Leshin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “I know from personal experience how awful this feels.”


Leshin worked on NASA’s Mars Polar lander that crashed on the red planet in 1999.

The 7-foot (2.3-metre) Japanese lander carried a mini lunar rover for the United Arab Emirates and a toylike robot from Japan designed to roll around in the moon dust for about 10 days. That was also the expected length of the full mission.

Named Hakuto, Japanese for white rabbit, the spacecraft had targeted the Atlas crater in the northeastern section of the moon’s near side, more than 50 miles (87 kilometres) across and just over 1 mile (2 kilometres) deep.

It took a roundabout route to the moon following its December liftoff, beaming back photos of Earth along the way. The lander entered lunar orbit on March 21.

Flight controllers ascertained that the lander was upright as it used its thrusters to slow during Wednesday’s final approach. Engineers monitoring the fuel gauge noticed that as the tank approached empty, the lander picked up speed as it descended and communication was then lost, according to ispace.


It’s possible the lander miscalculated its altitude and ran out of fuel before reaching the surface, company officials said at a news conference later in the day.

Founded in 2010, ispace hopes to start turning a profit as a one-way taxi service to the moon for other businesses and organizations. The company has already raised $300 million to cover the first three missions, according to Hakamada.

“We will keep going, never quit lunar quest,” he said.

For this test flight, the two main experiments were government-sponsored: the UAE’s 22-pound (10-kilogram) rover Rashid, named after Dubai’s royal family, and the Japanese Space Agency’s orange-sized sphere designed to transform into a wheeled robot on the moon. The UAE — already in orbit around Earth with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station and in orbit around Mars — was seeking to extend its presence to the moon.


The moon is suddenly hot again, with numerous countries and private companies clamoring to get on the lunar bandwagon. China has successfully landed three spacecraft on the moon since 2013, and U.S., China, India and South Korea have satellites currently circling the moon.

NASA’s first test flight in its new moonshot program, Artemis, made it to the moon and back late last year, paving the way for four astronauts to follow by the end of next year and two others to actually land on the moon a year after that. Pittsburgh’s Astrobotic Technology and Houston’s Intuitive Machines have lunar landers waiting in the wings, poised to launch later this year at NASA’s behest.

Hakuto and the Israeli spacecraft named Beresheet were finalists in the Google Lunar X Prize competition requiring a successful landing on the moon by 2018. The $20 million grand prize went unclaimed.
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spaminator

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China's Mars rover finds signs of recent water in sand dunes
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Published Apr 28, 2023 • 2 minute read

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Water may be more widespread and recent on Mars than previously thought, based on observations of Martian sand dunes by China’s rover.


The finding highlights new, potentially fertile areas in the warmer regions of Mars where conditions might be suitable for life to exist, though more study is needed.


Friday’s news comes days after mission leaders acknowledged that the Zhurong rover has yet to wake up since going into hibernation for the Martian winter nearly a year ago.

Its solar panels are likely covered with dust, choking off its power source and possibly preventing the rover from operating again, said Zhang Rongqiao, the mission’s chief designer.

Before Zhurong fell silent, it observed salt-rich dunes with cracks and crusts, which researchers said likely were mixed with melting morning frost or snow as recently as a few hundred thousand years ago.


Their estimated date range for when the cracks and other dune features formed in Mars’ Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere: sometime after 1.4 million to 400,000 years ago or even younger.

Conditions during that period were similar to now on Mars, with rivers and lakes dried up and no longer flowing as they did billions of years earlier.

Studying the structure and chemical makeup of these dunes can provide insights into “the possibility of water activity” during this period, the Beijing-based team wrote in a study published in Science Advances.

“We think it could be a small amount … no more than a film of water on the surface,” co-author Xiaoguang Qin of the Institute of Geology and Geophysics said in an email.


The rover did not directly detect any water in the form of frost or ice. But Qin said computer simulations and observations by other spacecraft at Mars indicate that even nowadays at certain times of year, conditions could be suitable for water to appear.

What’s notable about the study is how young the dunes are, said planetary scientist Frederic Schmidt at the University of Paris-Saclay, who was not part of the study.

“This is clearly a new piece of science for this region,” he said in an email.

Small pockets of water from thawing frost or snow, mixed with salt, likely resulted in the small cracks, hard crusty surfaces, loose particles and other dune features like depressions and ridges, the Chinese scientists said. They ruled out wind as a cause, as well as frost made of carbon dioxide, which makes up the bulk of Mars’ atmosphere.


Martian frost has been observed since NASA’s 1970s Viking missions, but these light dustings of morning frost were thought to occur in certain locations under specific conditions.

The rover has now provided “evidence that there may be a wider distribution of this process on Mars than previously identified,” said Trinity College Dublin’s Mary Bourke, an expert in Mars geology.

However small this watery niche, it could be important for identifying habitable environments, she added.

Launched in 2020, the six-wheeled Zhurong — named after a fire god in Chinese mythology — arrived at Mars in 2021 and spent a year roaming around before going into hibernation last May. The rover operated longer than intended, traveling more than a mile (1,921 metres).
 

55Mercury

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Dear God, no one tell torchy the uighur oppressors agree with moh that there's water on mars!

but to me, the educated guessers we revere as 'scientists' are using the same degree of conjecture as moh was

"might be suitable" "possibly preventing" "likely were mixed" "as recently as" "estimated date range" "possibility of" "could be a small amount" "could be suitable" "likely resulted" "thought to occur" "may be a wider distribution" "could be important"

guesswork ain't science, but merely a step in the process, cuz ya gotta start somewhere, I guess lol

rover named after mythological god, appropriately so cuz to thith point it'th all thtill a mythtery

meh, whatevs
 
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Taxslave2

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Dear God, no one tell torchy the uighur oppressors agree with moh that there's water on mars!

but to me, the educated guessers we revere as 'scientists' are using the same degree of conjecture as moh was

"might be suitable" "possibly preventing" "likely were mixed" "as recently as" "estimated date range" "possibility of" "could be a small amount" "could be suitable" "likely resulted" "thought to occur" "may be a wider distribution" "could be important"

guesswork ain't science, but merely a step in the process, cuz ya gotta start somewhere, I guess lol

rover named after mythological god, appropriately so cuz to thith point it'th all thtill a mythtery

meh, whatevs
You see the same type of writing from all the ecoterrorist organizations. Most of the claims are about as likely as gravity quitting.
 
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spaminator

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Japan becomes the fifth country to land a spacecraft on the moon
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Mari Yamaguchi
Published Jan 19, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 4 minute read
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with a payload including two lunar rovers from Japan and the United Arab Emirates, lifts off from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Dec. 11, 2022. But later in April 2023, the spacecraft from a Japanese company apparently crashed while attempting to land on the moon. Japan now hopes to make the world's first "pinpoint landing" on the moon early Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, joining a modern push for lunar contact with roots in the Cold War-era space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. PHOTO BY JOHN RAOUX /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
TOKYO — Japan became the fifth country in history to reach the moon when one of its spacecrafts without astronauts successfully made a soft landing on the lunar surface early Saturday.


However, space officials said they need more time to analyze whether the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, achieved its mission priority of making a pinpoint landing. They also said the craft’s solar panel had failed to generate power, which could shorten its activity on the moon.


Space officials believe the SLIM’s small rovers were launched as planned and that data was being transmitted back to Earth, said Hitoshi Kuninaka, head of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, a unit of Japan’s space agency.

But he said that SLIM’s solar battery wasn’t generating power and that it had only a few more hours of battery life. He said that the priority now was for the craft to gather as much data about its landing and the moon as possible on the remaining battery.


Japan follows the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India in reaching the moon.

Kuninaka said he believes that Japan’s space program at least achieved “minimum” success.

SLIM landed on the moon at about 12:20 a.m. Tokyo time on Saturday (1520 GMT Friday).

There was a tense wait for news after the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s mission control initially said that SLIM was on the lunar surface, but that it was still “checking its status.” No further details were given until a news conference nearly two hours later.

For the mission to be considered fully successful, space officials need to confirm whether SLIM made a pinpoint landing. Kuninaka said that while more time is needed, he personally thinks it was most likely achieved, based on his observation of data showing the spacecraft’s movement until the landing and its ability to transmit signals after landing.


SLIM, which was aiming to hit a very small target, is a lightweight spacecraft about the size of a passenger vehicle. It was using “pinpoint landing” technology that promises far greater control than any previous moon landing.

While most previous probes have used landing zones about 10 kilometres wide, SLIM was aiming at a target of just 100 metres (330 feet).

A landing of such precision would be a world’s first, and would be crucial technology for a sustainable, long-term and accurate space probe system, said Hiroshi Yamakawa, president of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA.

Japan needs the technology to secure its place and contribute in international space projects, Yamakawa said.


The project was the fruit of two decades of work on precision technology by JAXA.

SLIM, nicknamed “the Moon Sniper,” started its descent at midnight Saturday, and within 15 minutes it was down to about 10 kilometres above the lunar surface, according to the space agency, which is known as JAXA.

At an altitude of five kilometres, the lander was in a vertical descent mode, then at 50 metres (165 feet) above the surface, SLIM was supposed to make a parallel movement to find a safe landing spot, JAXA said.

The spacecraft was testing technology to allow moon missions to land “where we want to, rather than where it is easy to land,” JAXA has said. The spacecraft also was supposed to seek clues about the origin of the moon, including analyzing minerals with a special camera.


The SLIM, equipped with a pad each on its five legs to cushion impact, was aiming to land near the Shioli crater, near a region covered in volcanic rock.

The closely watched mission came only 10 days after a moon mission by a U.S. private company failed when the spacecraft developed a fuel leak hours after the launch.

SLIM was launched on a Mitsubishi Heavy H2A rocket in September. It initially orbited Earth and entered lunar orbit on Dec. 25.

Japan hopes to regain confidence for its space technology after a number of failures. A spacecraft designed by a Japanese company crashed during a lunar landing attempt in April, and a new flagship rocket failed its debut launch in March.

JAXA has a track record with difficult landings. Its Hayabusa2 spacecraft, launched in 2014, touched down twice on the 900-metre-long (3,000-foot-long) asteroid Ryugu, collecting samples that were returned to Earth.


A successful pinpoint landing by SLIM, especially on the moon, would raise Japan’s profile in the global space technology race.

Takeshi Tsuchiya, aeronautics professor at the Graduate School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo, said it was important to confirm the accuracy of landing on a targeted area.

“It is necessary to show the world that Japan has the appropriate technology in order to be able to properly assert Japan’s position in lunar development,” he said. The moon is important from the perspective of explorations of resources, and it can also be used as a base to go to other planets, like Mars, he said.

SLIM was carrying two small autonomous probes — lunar excursion vehicles LEV-1 and LEV-2, which officials say were believed to have been released just before landing.

LEV-1, equipped with an antenna and a camera, is tasked with recording SLIM’s landing. LEV-2, is a ball-shaped rover equipped with two cameras, developed by JAXA together with Sony, toymaker Tomy and Doshisha University.

— Ayaka McGill contributed to this report.
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spaminator

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Japan’s precision moon lander has hit its target, but it appears to be upside-down
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Mari Yamaguchi
Published Jan 25, 2024 • 3 minute read
This handout photo released on Jan. 25, 2024 from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and credited to JAXA, Takara Tomy, Sony Group Corporation and Doshisha University shows an image of the lunar surface taken and transmitted by LEV-2 "SORA-Q" the transformable lunar surface robot "SORA-Q" (operation verification model), installed on the private company's lunar module for the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission, after landing on the Moon on January 20.
This handout photo released on Jan. 25, 2024 from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and credited to JAXA, Takara Tomy, Sony Group Corporation and Doshisha University shows an image of the lunar surface taken and transmitted by LEV-2 "SORA-Q" the transformable lunar surface robot "SORA-Q" (operation verification model), installed on the private company's lunar module for the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission, after landing on the Moon on January 20. PHOTO BY JAPAN AEROSPACE EXPLORATION AGENCY (JAXA)/TAKARA TOMY/SONY GROUP/DOSHISHA UNIVERSITY /AFP via Getty Images
TOKYO — Japan’s space agency said Thursday that its first lunar mission hit the tiny patch of the moon’s surface it was aiming for, in a successful demonstration of its pinpoint landing system — although the probe appears to be lying upside-down.


Japan became the fifth country in history to reach the moon when the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, touched down on the Moon early on Saturday. But trouble with the probe’s solar batteries made it hard at first to figure whether the probe landed in the target zone.


While most previous probes have used landing zones about 10 kilometres wide, SLIM was aiming at a target of just 100 metres (330 feet). Improved accuracy would give scientists access to more of the moon, since probes could be placed nearer to obstacles.

One of the lander’s main engines lost thrust about 50 metres (54 yards) above the moon surface, causing a harder landing than planned.

A pair of autonomous probes released by SLIM before touchtown sent back images of the box-shaped vehicle on the surface, although it appeared to be upside down.


After a few days of data analysis, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA determined that the spacecraft landed about 55 metres (60 yards) away from its target, in between two craters near the Shioli crater, a region covered in volcanic rock.

But after the landing mishap, the craft’s solar panels wound up facing the wrong direction, and it cannot generate power. Officials said there is still hope the probe will be able to recharge when the Moon enters its daytime in the coming days.

JAXA project manager Shinichiro Sakai said the images sent back were just like those he’d imagined and seen in computer renderings.

“Something we designed travelled all the way to the moon and took that snapshot. I almost fell down when I saw it,” he said. For the pinpoint landing, Sakai said, he would give SLIM a “perfect score.”


“We demonstrated that we can land where we want,” Sakai said. “We opened a door to a new era.”

LEV-1, a hopping robot equipped with an antenna and a camera, was tasked with recording SLIM’s landing and transmitting images back to earth. LEV-2 is a baseball-sized rover equipped with two cameras, developed by JAXA together with Sony, toymaker Tomy Co. and Doshisha University.

The two autonomous probes frame and select images independently, both using LEV-1’s antenna to send them back to base.

Daichi Hirano, a JAXA scientist who designed LEV-2, also known as Sora-Q, said it selected images containing SLIM and nearby lunar surface and transmitted the images through LEV-1, making the pair the world’s first to achieve the mission. Despite the rush, the probes captured and transmitted 275 images.


Japan followed the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India to reach the moon surface.

The project was the fruit of two decades of work on precision technology by JAXA.

JAXA has a track record with difficult landings. Its Hayabusa2 spacecraft, launched in 2014, touched down twice on the 900-metre-long (3,000-foot-long) asteroid Ryugu, collecting samples that were returned to Earth.

SLIM, nicknamed “the Moon Sniper,” was intended to seek clues about the origin of the moon, including analyzing minerals with a special camera.

SLIM was launched on a Mitsubishi Heavy H2A rocket in September. It initially orbited Earth and entered lunar orbit on Dec. 25.

Japan hopes to regain confidence for its space technology after a number of failures. A spacecraft designed by a Japanese company crashed during a lunar landing attempt in April, and a new flagship rocket failed its debut launch in March.
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Upside-down Japanese moon probe back to work after sun reaches its solar panels
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Mari Yamaguchi
Published Jan 29, 2024 • 2 minute read
This image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)/Takara Tomy/Sony Group Corporation/Doshisha University shows an image taken by a Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 (LEV-2) of a robotic moon rover called Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, on the moon.
This image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)/Takara Tomy/Sony Group Corporation/Doshisha University shows an image taken by a Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 (LEV-2) of a robotic moon rover called Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, on the moon. PHOTO BY JAXA/TAKARA TOMY/SONY GROUP CORPORATION/DOSHISHA UNIVERSITY VIA AP, FILE /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
TOKYO — A Japanese moon explorer is up and running Monday after several tense days without the sunlight it needs to generate power.

Japan’s first lunar mission hit its target in a precision touchdown on Jan. 20, but landed the wrong way up, leaving its solar panels unable to see the sun.


But with the dawn of the lunar day, it appears that the probe has power.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said Monday that it successfully established communication with the probe Sunday night, and the craft has resumed its mission, taking pictures of the Moon’s surface and transmitting them to the Earth.



After a last-minute engine failure caused the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, to make a rougher-than-planned landing, JAXA used battery power to gather as much data as possible about the touchdown and the probe’s surroundings. The craft was then turned off to wait the sun to rise higher in the lunar sky in late January.

With power, SLIM has continued work to analyze the composition of olivine rocks on the lunar surface with its multi-band spectral camera, seeking clues about the Moon’s origin and evolution, the agency said. Earlier observations suggest that the moon may have formed when the Earth hit another planet.

A black-and-white photo posted by JAXA on social media showed the rocky lunar surface, including a rock the agency said it had named “Toy Poodle” after seeing it in initial images. The probe is analyzing six rocks, all of which have been given the names of dog breeds.


SLIM is expected to have enough sun to continue operations for several earth days, possibly until Thursday. JAXA said it’s not clear if the craft will work again after another severely cold lunar night.

The SLIM landed about 55 metres (60 yards) away from its target, in between two craters near the Shioli crater, a region covered in volcanic rock. Previous moon missions have typically aimed for flat areas at least 10 kilometres wide.

SLIM carried two autonomous probes, which were released just before touchdown, recording the landing, surroundings and other lunar data.

The landing made Japan the world’s fifth country to reach the moon surface, after the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India.
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Japan’s new flagship H3 rocket reaches orbit in a key test after failed debut last year
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Mari Yamaguchi
Published Feb 17, 2024 • 2 minute read
Japan's H3 rocket leaves the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima, southwestern Japan on Feb. 17, 2024.
Japan's H3 rocket leaves the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima, southwestern Japan on Feb. 17, 2024. PHOTO BY STR/JIJI PRESS /AFP via Getty Images
TOKYO — Japan’s flagship H3 rocket reached orbit and released two small observation satellites in a key second test following a failed debut launch last year, buoying hope for the country in the global space race.


The H3 rocket blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center on time Saturday morning, two days after its originally scheduled liftoff was delayed by bad weather.


The rocket successfully reached orbit at an altitude of about 670 kilometres and released two satellites, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said.

“We feel so relieved to be able to announce the good results,” JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa told a news conference.

Japan's H3 rocket leaves the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima, southwestern Japan on Feb. 17, 2024.
Japan’s H3 rocket leaves the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima, southwestern Japan on Feb. 17, 2024. PHOTO BY STR/JIJI PRESS /AFP via Getty Images
The H3’s main missions are to secure independent access to space and be competitive as international demand for satellite launches grows. “We made a big first step today toward achieving that goal,” Yamakawa said.

The launch is a boost for Japan’s space program following a recent streak of successes, including a historic precision touchdown on the moon of an unmanned spacecraft last month.


The liftoff was closely watched as a test for Japan’s space development after H3, in its debut flight last March, failed to ignite the second-stage engine. JAXA and its main contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have been developing H3 as a successor to its current mainstay, H-2A, which is set to retire after two more flights.

As the rocket soared and released its first payload successfully, project members at the JAXA command centre cheered and hugged each other in livestreaming footage. NHK television showed some staff at a press centre crying with relief and joy.

JAXA H3 project manager Masashi Okada called the result “perfect,” saying H3 cleared all missions set for Saturday’s flight. “After a long wait, the newborn H3 finally had its first cry.”


“I now feel a heavy load taken off my shoulders. But now is the real start for H3, and we will work to steadily improve it,” Okada said.

The H3 No. 2 rocket was decorated with thousands of stickers carrying messages sent from well-wishers around the country.

Two microsatellites — observation satellite CE-SAT-IE, developed by Canon Electronics, and TIRSAT, which was co-developed by a number of companies and universities — were piggybacked on the H3 Saturday. Their makers said they were willing to take the chance as they see a growing market in the satellite business.

The 57-metre (187-feet) -long H3 is designed to carry larger payloads than H-2A at much lower costs of about 50 billion yen (US$330 million), to be globally competitive.


Masayuki Eguchi, head of defence and space segment at Mitsubishi Heavy, said his company hopes to achieve better price competitiveness after about a dozen more launches.

“I’m delighted to see this incredible accomplishment in the space sector right after the success of the SLIM moon landing,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on X, formerly Twitter. “I expect the Japanese mainstay rocket will steadily make achievement.”

Last month, a H-2A rocket successfully placed a spy satellite into its planned orbit, and days later JAXA’s unmanned spacecraft SLIM made the world’s first “pinpoint” moon landing then captured lunar data.
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spaminator

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Japan’s moon lander survives second lunar night, beating predictions
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Mari Yamaguchi
Published Feb 26, 2024 • 1 minute read
FILE - This image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)/Takara Tomy/Sony Group Corporation/Doshisha University shows an image taken by a Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 (LEV-2) of a robotic moon rover called Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, on the moon. A Japanese moon explorer, after making a historic "pinpoint" lunar landing last month, has also captured data from 10 lunar rocks, a far greater than expected work that could help find the clue to the origin of the moon, its project manager said Wednesday, Feb. 14 , 2024. (JAXA/Takara Tomy/Sony Group Corporation/Doshisha University via AP, File)
FILE - This image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)/Takara Tomy/Sony Group Corporation/Doshisha University shows an image taken by a Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 (LEV-2) of a robotic moon rover called Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, on the moon. A Japanese moon explorer, after making a historic "pinpoint" lunar landing last month, has also captured data from 10 lunar rocks, a far greater than expected work that could help find the clue to the origin of the moon, its project manager said Wednesday, Feb. 14 , 2024. (JAXA/Takara Tomy/Sony Group Corporation/Doshisha University via AP, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s first moon lander responded to a signal from Earth, suggesting it has survived a second freezing weeks-long lunar night, Japan’s space agency said Monday.


JAXA called the signal, received late Sunday night, a “miracle” because the probe was not designed to survive the lunar night, when temperatures can fall to minus 170 degrees Celsius (minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit).


The craft, Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, made a “pinpoint” touchdown on Jan. 20, making Japan became the fifth country to successfully place a probe on the moon.

But the probe landed the wrong way up, with its solar panels initially unable to see the sun and had to be turned off within hours.

SLIM regained power on the eighth day after its landing, when it got the sun. For several days, SLIM collected geological data from moon rocks, before going back into hibernation in late January to wait out another lunar night.

JAXA said Sunday’s communication was kept short because it was still “lunar midday” and SLIM was at a very high temperature, about 100 Celsius (212 Fahrenheit). JAXA is now preparing to make contact again when the vehicle has cooled.

Scientists are hoping to find clues about the origin of the moon by the comparing mineral compositions of moon rocks and those of Earth.
japan-moon-landing[1].jpg
 

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Japan’s first private-sector rocket launch exploded shortly after takeoff
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Yuri Kageyama
Published Mar 12, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 1 minute read
a small rocket exploded after it was launched
This frame grab taken from AFPTV via online footage broadcast by Wakayama Telecasting Corp. (WTV) on March 13, 2024 shows smoke and fire after a small rocket exploded after it was launched. PHOTO BY AFPTV /AFP via Getty Images
TOKYO — A rocket touted as Japan’s first from the private sector to go into orbit exploded shortly after takeoff Wednesday, livestreamed video showed.


Online video showed the rocket called Kairos blasting off from Wakayama Prefecture, in central Japan, a mountainous area filled with trees, but exploding midair within seconds.


A huge plume of smoke engulfed the area, and flames shot up in some spots. The video then showed spurts of water shot toward that spot in an effort to put out the blaze.

Tokyo-based startup Space One, behind the rocket launch, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The launch was already delayed several times, with the last postponement coming Saturday, after a ship was spotted in a risk area, according to Japanese media reports.

If it had succeeded, Space One would have been the first private company to put a rocket into orbit.

Tokyo-based Space One was set up in 2018, with investments from major Japanese companies, including Canon Electronics, IHI, Shimizu and major banks.

There was no immediate reports of injuries or other damage.

Japan’s main space exploration effort is led by the government’s NASDA, which stands for The National Space Development Agency of Japan, this nation’s equivalent of NASA of the U.S.
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