*** ----> Japan Moon probe survives 3rd lunar night | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Japan Moon probe survives 3rd lunar night

AFP | Tokyo, Japan   

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Japan's Moon lander woke up for a third time after its main functions survived another frigid two-week lunar night, the country's space agency said Wednesday.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), dubbed the "Moon Sniper" for its landing precision, touched down in January -- making Japan only the fifth nation to achieve a soft lunar landing.

But the unmanned lightweight spacecraft, carrying a mini-rover that moves like a turtle, landed at a wonky angle that left its solar panels facing the wrong way.

Defying pessimistic predictions, the probe was revived in late February once the lunar night, which lasts about 14 Earth days, came to an end.

Despite facing temperatures as low as -130 degrees Celsius (-200 degrees Fahrenheit), it repeated the feat late last month and transmitted new images back to Earth.

On Wednesday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said it had succeeded again in communicating with the probe after it woke up for the third time.

On X, formerly Twitter, it posted a new image of the Moon's surface that it had received from the lander.

"SLIM has kept its main functions after surviving three nights," said JAXA, which previously said the spacecraft was not designed for the harsh lunar nights.

"We will continue checking the status of SLIM carefully, and make clear which parts are prone to deterioration and which parts are less prone to deterioration, depending on the Moon's environment in the daytime and at night," JAXA said.

The probe's mission aims to examine a part of the Moon's mantle -- the usually deep inner layer beneath its crust -- believed to be accessible at the crater where it landed.