What is ‘Moon Sniper’ and how Mission Hit Its Marks

Moon Sniper: When Japan attempts the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) probe’s precision landing on recent, it hopes to become the fifth nation to land a spacecraft on the moon.

SLIM, also known as the “moon sniper,” will test an experimental technology that the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) claims is novel and crucial for looking for elements that could support life on the moon, such as water.

Starting at 1500 GMT on Friday, JAXA will begin a 20-minute touchdown phase on its one-way mission. The mission’s target landing spot is around the size of two athletic tracks, situated on a crater’s slope somewhat south of the lunar equator.

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What is “Moon Sniper”

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s moon lander mission is called Smart Lander for Investigating Moon. The lander was supposed to launch in 2021, but because of difficulties with its rideshare, the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, it was delayed until 2023.

Japan’s “Moon Sniper” lander has defied the odds for a third time, surviving yet another long, frigid lunar night despite not being designed to endure such harsh conditions, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Temperatures during the lunar night can plunge to minus 208 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 133 degrees Celsius), according to NASA. And Moon Sniper wasn’t expected to withstand even one lunar night, which is a period of darkness on the moon lasting about two weeks.

The robotic vehicle, also known as SLIM, or the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, initially touched down on the lunar surface on January 19. The historic feat made Japan the third country this century, and the fifth ever, to land on the moon. The spacecraft touched down near the Shioli Crater, located about 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the Sea of Tranquility, a region near the lunar equator, where Apollo 11 first landed humans on the moon.

Overview of Moon Sniper Mission

Moon Sniper: Japan became the fifth nation to accomplish a soft landing on the moon, following the Soviet Union, the US, China, and India, with the recent landing of a spacecraft named SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon).
About SLIM Using the H-IIA rocket, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched SLIM from the Tanegashima spaceport in September 2023.

It uses innovative technologies to demonstrate a precise landing within 100 meters.
It also included two miniature robotic rovers that Sony and Tomy had created for reconnaissance.
The goal of the mission is to revitalize Japan’s space program, which has seen failures such as the March 2023 failure of the flagship H3 rocket.


Moon Sniper: The mission aims to observe X-rays coming from deep space and to identify their wavelengths with unprecedented precision.

It will use state-of-the-art spectroscopy to measure changes in the brightness of celestial objects at different wavelengths.

It detects X-rays with energies ranging from 400 to 12,000 electron volts. (For comparison, the energy of visible light is 2 to 3 electron volts.)

This range will provide astrophysicists with new information about some of the universe’s hottest regions, largest structures, and objects with the strongest gravity.

Future Moon Missions

  • ISRO (India): LUPEX with JAXA, Chandrayaan-4
  • NASA (USA): Lunar Trailblazer Mission, Viper Rover, Artemis 2-6 (Manned mission).
  • ROSCOSMOS (Russia): LUNA 26-28, ORYOL
  • CNSA (China): Chang’e 6-8
  • JAXA (Japan): Destiny+

During its descent, the spacecraft encountered an anomaly, resulting in a nose-first landing that left its solar panels facing west instead of upright. This orientation deprived the panels of necessary sunlight for power generation.

Despite this setback, the lander managed to transmit a series of images before depleting its energy and shutting down. The mission team in Japan remained optimistic, anticipating that once sunlight reached the solar panels again, the spacecraft might revive.

Conclusion on Moon Sniper

Moon Sniper, aptly named for its precision landing technology that placed it approximately 55 meters (180 feet) from its intended target, continues to impress the team.

It consistently awakens after each lunar night, capturing new images and transmitting them back before entering sleep mode again. The vehicle’s remarkable resilience in the harsh lunar environment stands out among recent moon missions. Experts speculate on a few potential reasons behind this resilience.

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