Japanese probe may run out of power after landing on the Moon

The SLIM probe’s solar panels stopped working, so it could run out of battery and eventually stop working

Japan this Saturday became the fifth country to achieve a successful moon landing, but its SLIM probe is running out of power due to a problem with its solar battery system.

After 20 minutes of descent, the Japanese space agency JAXA said that its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) landing module landed on the surface of the satellite and had been able to establish communication.

But the solar panels stopped working so the probe, nicknamed ‘Moon Sniper’ (‘Lunar Sniper’, in Spanish) for its precision technology, will only have a battery for “a few hours,” said Hitoshi Kuninaka of the JAXA agency.

Mission officials prioritized collecting data while possible, although Kuninaka suggested it was possible for the batteries to work again once the angle of sunlight changes.
«It is unlikely that the solar battery has failed. “It may not be pointing in the direction originally planned,” he said at a press conference.

«If the descent had not been successful, it would have crashed at a very high speed. “If this were the case, all the functioning of the probe would have been lost,” he explained.

“But it is sending data to Earth,” he added.

SLIM is one of many new lunar missions that countries and private companies have launched 50 years after Neil Armstrong set foot on the surface of the Earth’s satellite.

But crash landings, communication failures and other technical problems abound. So far, only four other countries have succeeded in this mission: the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India.