Japan's SLIM survives 3rd lunar night, surprising designers

Japan's Lunar Excursion Vehicle (LEV-2) shows Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) on the Moon's surface, on January 20. The Lander survived a third lunar night, JAXA said on Wednesday. Photo by JAXA/EPA-EFE

April 24 (UPI) -- Japan's moon lander has survived a third lunar night, something that surprised even its designers, as it continued to take snapshots and probe the satellite's surface, officials said on Wednesday.

The Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon, or SLIM, came back to life after emerging from the darkness and sent signals to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

"Last night (the night of April 23), we were able to successfully communicate with SLIM which had started up again, and confirmed that SLIM had survived for the third time," JAXA said on X on Wednesday. The space agency released a photo taken by the lander.

SLIM's ability to last lunar nights, which can last up to two weeks has been a concern since its landing but the spacecraft has continued to defy skeptics.

"SLIM has maintained its primary functions even after three overnight stays, which was not anticipated in its design," JAXA said. "We will continue to closely monitor SLIM's condition and hope to identify areas that deteriorate depending on the lunar day and night environment, as well as areas that are not prone to deterioration."

SLIM landed on the Moon on Jan. 20, allowing Japan to join the United States, China, Russia and India as the only countries to make a successful moon landing. SLIM, though, landed upside down and initially lost power for nine days before returning to power.

Last month, JAXA said the SLIM had survived its second lunar night that lasted two weeks and continued to function and communicate.