Japan’s SLIM moon lander introduces LEV-2, a tennis ball-sized lunar explorer, in its recent mission. The main objective behind SLIM’s launch is to demonstrate Japan’s first soft lunar landing. Partnered with the XRISM X-ray satellite, SLIM aims to reach the moon’s orbit soon and conduct surveys at its designated landing spot.
LEV-2 is a small metal sphere that will detach from the lander, traversing the lunar terrain, and capturing images of SLIM’s landing and the surrounding area. The explorer’s battery power is expected to sustain its operations for around two hours. Interestingly, LEV-2 possesses the ability to transform into legs and wheels when its two halves separate, facilitating movement and transmitting valuable data back to Earth.
This innovative probe was developed utilizing shape-changing mechanics typically found in children’s toys. Collaborating with toy manufacturer Tomy, researchers at Doshisha University, and the Sony Group, the team successfully reduced the size and components used in LEV-2, ensuring its compatibility for travel aboard the SLIM lander.
While the primary purpose of this mission is scientific research, the developers also have another plan in mind. They hope that LEV-2’s unique design and mission will serve as an inspiration to children worldwide, sparking curiosity and interest in the realm of science.
The SLIM moon lander and its tiny counterpart, LEV-2, have set sail on their scientific journey, aiming to achieve Japan’s first soft lunar landing and provide valuable insights into the moon’s surface. With an emphasis on technological innovation and inspiration, this mission presents an opportunity to propel scientific curiosity and pave the way for future breakthroughs in space exploration.
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