The Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon (SLIM) Moon lander and the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) spectroscope have both been launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). On September 7, 2023, at 8:42 am JST (5:12 am IST), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) launched both spacecraft from Tanegashima Space Centre, the biggest rocket launch facility in Japan, on the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 47 (H-IIA F47). By February 2024, XRISM and SLIM are anticipated to reach the Moon. The mission is known as Moon Sniper.
Japan’s third lunar mission is the Moon Sniper one. The overall expedition has a $100 million budget.
The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science launched Hiten, Japan’s first lunar exploration mission, on January 24, 1990. On April 10, 1993, a Japanese Earth-orbiting satellite that was purposefully destroyed on the Moon made Japan the third country to land there. The satellite was used to test and validate technology for upcoming lunar and planetary missions. Hiten was sent into a very elliptical orbit while carrying the tiny orbiter Hagoromo, which was dropped near the Moon. Despite achieving lunar orbit, Hagoromo was unable to do scientific tests because its transmitter failed.
Before purposefully colliding with Earth’s sole natural satellite, Hiten purposely flew by the Moon ten times throughout the mission. With this mission, Japan became the third nation to successfully complete both of its goals: a lunar flyby and a lunar surface impact.
Kaguya (Selene), Japan’s second lunar mission, was launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre on September 14, 2007. Two tiny satellites, Okina and Ouna, were carried by Kaguya, Japan’s second orbital lunar exploration project. Understanding the history of the Moon and creating the technology for further lunar research were Kaguya’s key goals. The Kaguya meteor struck the Moon on June 10, 2009, more than two years later.
SLIM will try a gentle landing on the Moon in the meanwhile. If SLIM is successful in making a soft landing on the Moon, Japan would join India as the fifth nation to do it. Chandrayaan-3’s landing on the lunar south pole made India the fourth nation to accomplish the feat.
A small-scale exploration lander called SLIM was created to show how equipment used in Moon landings may be made lighter and smaller while yet allowing for precise landings on the lunar surface.
The goals of SLIM include testing technology essential to exploration in low-gravity environments, investigating the origins of the Moon, accelerating the study of the Moon and other planets using a lighter exploration system compared to other spacecraft, and demonstrating precise landing techniques by a small explorer. According to JAXA, the final goal is significant because it may enable further research into the solar system.
Through the Moon Sniper mission, the Japanese space agency hopes to ascertain the degree of navigational precision necessary for next solar scientific investigation.