Japanese space module lands on the Moon

Japan's SLIM space module appears to have succeeded in its attempt to land on the moon with unparalleled accuracy, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said as it tries to verify the spacecraft's status, according to AFP.

The SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) module, which has been in orbit around the rocky object since late December, had begun its descent about twenty minutes earlier at a speed of about 1,700 meters per second.

According to the telemetry data, "SLIM appears to have landed. We are checking its status," said Shin Toriumi, a JAXA official.

This small unmanned spacecraft (2.4 meters long, 1.7 meters wide and 2.7 meters high) was not only supposed to land on the moon, but also within 100 meters of its target - a radius that is considered to be a high degree of accuracy. Hence the nickname "Moon Sniper".

Lunar vehicles usually land within a few kilometres of their target, which can complicate exploration missions. And landing on the Moon is harder than landing on asteroids - an achievement that has already been achieved, including by JAXA - because the Moon's gravity is stronger than that of small celestial bodies.

Sniper's precision is "a huge technological advance that will allow us to design missions that answer much more specific research questions." /BGNES