Japan's Moon Sniper

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Japan's "Moon Sniper" is a high-precision lunar lander developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The lander, officially known as the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), successfully touched down on the lunar surface on January 19, 2024, marking a historic first for Japan and making it the fifth country to achieve a soft landing on the moon124. The nickname "Moon Sniper" is derived from the lander's precision technology. SLIM aimed to land within 100 meters (approximately 330 feet) of its target site on the rim of the Shioli Crater, a level of accuracy significantly higher than previous lunar missions237. The SLIM mission also included two small robots, LEV-1 and LEV-2 (short for "Lunar Excursion Vehicle"). LEV-1 is designed to hop across the lunar surface, while LEV-2, a ball-shaped robot, is designed to separate into two halves and crawl around the landing site. These robots are intended to gather data and take photos, including images of the SLIM mothership2. However, the mission has encountered some difficulties. After landing, the spacecraft's solar cell was not generating electricity as expected, which could potentially lead to a premature end of the mission. JAXA is currently receiving a signal from the lander and is working to determine the cause of the issue1. The Moon Sniper's landing site is near the small Shioli crater within a lunar plain called the Sea of Nectar, the same region where Apollo 11 landed in 1969. The lander is designed to study rocks at the site that could provide insights into the moon's geological history16. The success of the Moon Sniper mission is seen as a significant advancement for Japan's space exploration efforts, demonstrating a high-precision landing technology that no other nation has achieved before4.
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