Japan's moon probe enters dormant state during lunar night

Japan's space agency says its moon probe has entered a dormant state as lunar night set in on the area where the spacecraft landed.

Officials of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said in a social media post on Thursday that the moon lander was not designed for the harsh lunar nights but they plan to re-establish communication with the probe in mid-February when the sun shines again on its solar panel. The temperature on the moon's surface is known to dip to about minus 170 degrees Celsius at night.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, landed on the moon on January 20, making Japan the fifth country to achieve the feat. SLIM initially was not generating electricity because its solar panel was facing a different direction than planned and did not receive sunlight.

But communication was restored by about the eighth day as the solar panel caught sunlight and the battery began generating power.

After re-establishing communication, SLIM's special camera observed types of minerals contained in rocks on the moon, with the aim of learning more about the origin of the celestial body.

JAXA officials have said they succeeded in observing 10 rocks, which have been given names of dogs, such as "Akita Inu" and "Dalmatian." They said they are analyzing the data.