Since no one can hear a shutter click in orbit, Japan’s lunar lander silently sent off what might be its last image.
Last month, the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM lander as it is commonly called, made touchdown on the moon. But when it landed almost upside down, things went sideways very quickly. Notably, the story of how the overturned lander was captured on camera is an interesting one in and of itself. In any case, the lander was turned off until the battery could be recharged by sunlight.
This reestablished communication with the SLIM lander following a run of unfortunate events. The primary engine failed, making it difficult to land, and there were problems with power generation. As a result, the solar panels were oriented incorrectly.
However, power eventually returned, and pictures began to appear. However, the beginning of lunar darkness now throws a shade over last week’s achievements.
According to Engadget, lunar darkness lasts for two weeks and can bring with it lows of -200 degrees. Darkness caused the SLIM lander to become dormant, but it wasn’t designed for such circumstances and might not wake up again.
This is the last picture that observers can see of the SLIM lander before it went into slumber.
On the moon, there are fourteen days of daylight and fourteen days of darkness. The Japanese space agency JAXA’s SLIM landing website states, “This day, right before sunset, I took another photo of the surrounding scenery.” The text is translated from Japanese.
“The shaded region that isn’t exposed to sunlight has become larger than it was right after the landing. SLIM enters a dormant state once the sun sets because it runs out of power. As of now, the power system has been functioning effectively, even with the landing observation operations.
If the SLIM lander is unable to reactivate after going into dormancy, this may be the final image ever captured by it. If true, the ominous darkness is definitely an unsettling note to depart on, especially when compared to the photo shot just after landing.