Japan has successfully launched the XRISM space telescope and the SLIM lunar lander

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) launched the 47th H-IIA launch vehicle (H-IIA F47) carrying XRISM and SLIM on board at 8:42:11 a.m. on Sept. 7, 2023. Credit: MHI

The XRISM X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy mission, the Smart Lunar Exploration Lander (SLIM), launched aboard H-IIA Launch Vehicle 47 (H-IIA F47) at 8:42:11 a.m. in September. November 7, 2023 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Tanegashima Space Center.

The launch vehicle flew as planned, with XRISM successfully separated from the launch vehicle at approximately 14 minutes and 9 seconds after launch and SLIM at approximately 47 minutes and 33 seconds after launch.

The X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) and the Intelligent Lunar Exploration Landing Vehicle (SLIM) are two important missions from the Japanese Space Agency.

X-ray imaging and spectroscopy mission (XRISM) in space

X-ray imaging and spectroscopy mission (XRISM) in space conceptual illustration. Credit: JAXA


XRISM’s mission is to study X-ray emissions from celestial bodies. Its primary goal is to better understand the structure and evolution of the universe by observing X-rays emitted by astronomical phenomena such as black holes, neutron stars, and galaxy clusters. The name XRISM, which stands for X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, emphasizes its dual focus on both imaging and spectroscopy.

XRISM aims to provide groundbreaking insights into various scientific fields, including the evolution of the most expansive structures in the universe, the behavior of matter under intense gravitational forces, the rotation of black holes, the internal architecture of neutron stars, and the complex physics of particle jets. .

The Smart Lunar Exploration Lander (SLIM)

SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) aims to demonstrate “landing in place”, precision landing technology and obstacle detection technology. Credit: JAXA

Medium build

As the name suggests, the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon is intended to explore the lunar surface. The primary goal of SLIM is to demonstrate precision moon landing capabilities. This will be a significant step forward compared to previous missions that had larger landing areas. Achieving a high level of precision in lunar landings can pave the way for more targeted science investigations and the safe placement of future manned and unmanned landers in regions of interest.

The mission includes advanced guidance, navigation and control technologies. These technologies help the lander make real-time decisions as it descends, allowing it to avoid obstacles such as rocks and potholes.

The intended landing site for SLIM is around the Procellarum KREEP Terrane region of the Moon. This area is of particular scientific interest due to the presence of specific types of lunar rocks that can provide insight into the moon’s early volcanic activity and its general geological history.

This confirms that SLIM is relatively small in size compared to some other lunar landers JAXAFocus on “smart” and efficient design. Its smaller footprint could also serve as a template for future small-scale lunar exploration missions.

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