JAXA, the Japanese space agency, is preparing to launch two different space missions from one rocket: a new X-ray telescope that will spy on some of the hottest spots in our universe, and a small experimental robotic moon lander. But we have to wait for one more day for the work to land.
called a telescope X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, or XRISM for short (pronounced like the word “christ”). A lunar mission known as the Smart Lander to Explore the Moon or SLIM. Here’s what you need to know about assignments.
Why was the launch scrapped?
XRISM and SLIM were expected to launch from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center on an H-IIA rocket at 8:26 p.m. ET Sunday (or 9:26 a.m. Monday in Japan).
The rocket was moving into its terminal countdown stage, but less than 30 minutes before the scheduled launch, JAXA announced on its webcast that the launch had been canceled for the day “due to inclement weather.” Although JAXA said moments earlier that the weather was “calm,” the winds at high altitudes above the launch pad were too severe for a safe launch. A post on X (formerly known as Twitter) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries develops and operates rockets used for flight.
Saturday’s flight was delayed earlier due to bad weather. The Japanese space agency has not yet announced when the next launch attempt will take place. But it has a reserved deadline of September 15.
What is XRISM?
It’s a telescope the size of a bus. JAXA is working with NASA on this mission, with additional participation from the European Space Agency. XRISM will study cosmic X-rays, which unlike other wavelengths of light can only be detected from above the Earth’s atmosphere, which protects us from harmful radiation.
XRISM will use sophisticated spectroscopy to measure changes in the brightness of celestial objects at different wavelengths. The data will reveal information about the motion and chemistry of some extreme cosmic places, such as matter orbiting black holes, bubbling plasma infiltrating galaxies, and the remnants of exploding massive stars.
A key instrument on XRISM is Resolve, an instrument that collects spectroscopic data with higher resolution than Earth-orbiting X-ray observatories. Resolve must be cooled to a fraction above absolute zero to measure the small changes in temperature when X-rays strike the surface of the instrument.
A second instrument, called Xtend, will work simultaneously to image the universe with a resolution comparable to the way our eyes would perceive it if we had X-ray vision. During Resolve Zoom, Xtend zooms in, giving scientists complementary views of the same X-ray sources over a larger area.
What is SLIM?
SLIM is a small robotic moon lander without astronauts. It’s about the size of a small food truck and weighs over 1,500 pounds.
The lander’s mission was not primarily scientific. Rather, it is to display a precise navigation system, with the aim of setting within a football field length of the targeted landing site. Developing better landing technology will help future spacecraft land closer to rugged terrain of scientific interest.
Where are XRISM and SLIM going?
The space telescope will be placed in orbit about 350 miles from Earth. Once there, the researchers will operate the instruments and conduct performance tests over the next few months. Science operations will begin in January, and initial results from these data are expected in about a year.
You have to be patient on the SLIM journey towards the Shioli Crater near the Moon. The spacecraft would take a long, round trip of at least four months, requiring minimal propulsion. SLIM will take several months to reach lunar orbit, after which it will orbit the moon for a month before attempting to land on the lunar surface.