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SLIM spacecraft obtained an unprecedented high-precision lunar landing

SLIM spacecraft obtained an unprecedented high-precision lunar landing

February 8, 2024 4:51 pm

Mitsubishi Electric has disclosed that the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), a spacecraft invented under contract with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation disclosed that the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), a spacecraft developed by the company under contract with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), successfully landed on the lunar surface at 00:20 a.m. (Japan Standard Time).

Data acquired by JAXA verified that the precision touchdown was only 55 meters east of the target landing location, a level of accuracy significantly exceeding that of ordinary lunar landings, which are normally within several kilometers of their goals, making this an exceptional accomplishment. High-precision landing technology will be increasingly critical for future lunar and planetary exploration.

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Mitsubishi Electric was awarded a contract in 2015 with primary responsibility for the design, manufacture, and testing of the SLIM at the company’s Kamakura Works in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. In collaboration with JAXA, Mitsubishi Electric also developed the guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) system used for high-precision landings. The GNC system’s sensors, which include a camera and radar, an onboard computer, and software, enable the SLIM to determine its position and attitude automatically and make appropriate modifications during flight. The GNC system is equipped with a JAXA-developed image navigation system, which contains an image navigation algorithm and a camera, and it can estimate its position by collecting photographs of the lunar surface to determine crater locations.

Mitsubishi Electric, which is in charge of delivering the SLIM’s landing radar and other sensors, created the onboard computer and software, both of which are critical components of the GNC system. The business also finished the GNC system by combining JAXA’s image navigation technology with sensors, computers, and software.

According to JAXA’s post-landing analysis, the SLIM was within 10 meters of its target landing site at an altitude of about 50 meters when it began implementing obstacle avoidance maneuvers, confirming that the GNC system performed exceptionally well in guiding the SLIM’s high-precision landing.

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