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Japan's 'Moon Sniper' appears to have landed on the Moon

Japan's 'Moon Sniper' appears to have landed on the Moon

If the spacecraft has successfully landed, it will be Japan's first-ever lunar landing.

Big news for space fans out there - it looks like Japan has managed to land its unmanned spacecraft on the Moon.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, has touched down on the lunar surface, but it's still 'checking its status'.

It's particularly momentous as it's Japan's very first Moon landing, and it's managed to do so with a very cool spacecraft.


Nicknamed the Moon Sniper, it's the around the size of a passenger vehicle and uses 'pinpoint landing' technology - promising far greater control than any previous Moon landing.

To put this into perspective: previous probes have used landing zones around 10 kilometers (six miles) wide, while SLIM aims for a target of just 100 meters (330 feet).

If the spacecraft has indeed successfully landed, it would make Japan the fifth country to touch down on the Moon - after the US, Russia, China and India.

According to JAXA, the Moon Sniper will not only test this cutting-edge landing technology, but also seek clues about the origin of the Moon - it's equipped with a special camera, which will help it analyze lunar materials.

It's been a long journey for the spacecraft: it launched from the Tanegashima Space Center back in September, and arrived in lunar orbit on Christmas day.

STR / Contributor / Getty

The expedition seems even more impressive as just last week a lunar mission from a private US company failed after the spacecraft developed a fuel leak hours after launch.

If all goes well, Japan could have just elevated itself as a major player in the space tech race - no doubt Elon Musk will be watching this project with a close eye.

And it could completely transform how we approach the Moon in future - making it easier to land in more specific lunar areas, rather than just shooting for wherever is easiest to touch down.

Takeshi Tsuchiya, aeronautics professor at the Graduate School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo, said: “It is necessary to show the world that Japan has the appropriate technology in order to be able to properly assert Japan's position in lunar development."

More details on the landing will be revealed in an upcoming press conference.

Featured Image Credit: JAXA