Against all odds, Japan’s SLIM lander managed to turn back on more than a week after it plopped upside down onto the surface of the moon — but now, it’s gone dormant for the duration of the lunar night, and it may not be able to wake up again. The SLIM team from the Japanese space agency, JAXA, on Thursday shared the last image the lander captured at the moon’s Shioli crater before dusk, as night encroached. Lunar night lasts the equivalent of two Earth weeks and can get colder than -200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Last night (1/31 ~ 2/1) we sent a command to switch on #SLIM’s communicator again just in case, but with no response, we confirmed SLIM had entered a dormant state. This is the last scene of the Moon taken by SLIM before dusk. #GoodAfterMoon #JAXA pic.twitter.com/V1iAUoxJFK
— 小型月着陸実証機SLIM (@SLIM_JAXA) February 1, 2024
The team has confirmed that the solar powered lander is in a dormant state that will last at least the duration of the lunar night. Its chances of resuming operations afterward aren’t great, but then again, it’s already surprised us once. “Although SLIM was not designed for the harsh lunar nights, we plan to try to operate again from mid-February, when the Sun will shine again on SLIM’s solar cells,” the team wrote on X. If this truly is SLIM’s last photo, it sure is a spooky one.