Japan's lunar probe captures images of more rocks than researchers had expected

Space experts in Japan say the country's SLIM lunar probe has defied expectations by providing data for as many as ten rocks. They now hope to shed light on the origins of the moon.

Smart Lander for Investigating Moon touched down on January 20.

But a solar panel was facing the wrong way, and the vehicle was unable to generate power. SLIM started exploring several days later after catching some sunlight.

Saiki Kazuto of Ritsumeikan University's Earth & Space Exploration Center leads a team tasked with using SLIM to observe lunar rocks.

A special onboard camera has provided the team with data for as many as 10 rocks. Saiki told NHK that one would have been considered a success.

Dog-lover Saiki proposed naming the rocks after canine breeds, such as toy poodle and Shiba.

The team is now working to determine whether they are olivine.

Finding the mineral could reinforce the theory that the moon was formed by debris from a collision between Earth and another small planet.

Saiki hopes to announce the results of the study within six months to a year.