Apache NuttX Powers World's Smallest Lunar Robot in Japan's Historic Autonomous Lunar Exploration Mission

In an historic milestone in lunar exploration, Japan landed Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 (LEV-2), the world's smallest lunar robot, capturing historic images from the moon's surface with integrated NuttX-powered technology in its Sony Spresense board.

The fifth country to reach the moon had the most precise landing ever, within 100 meters of its target zone, and was the world's first completely autonomous lunar exploration mission. This joint development of the Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 (LEV-2) was named "SORA-Q," for the Small Lunar Landing Demonstrator (SLIM).

On January 20, 2024, both LEV-2 and LEV-1 were released onto the lunar surface just before SLIM's landing. LEV-2, operating autonomously, captured images of SLIM and its surroundings and transmitted them to Earth using LEV-1's communication device, resulting in an effective collaboration between these three integral components.

Despite its initial spherical form, LEV-2 successfully deformed, deployed, and navigated on the lunar surface. Utilizing an image processing algorithm, LEV-2 selected high-quality images within SLIM's field of view and transmitted them.

The collaborative effort involved the National Research and Development Agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Takara Tomy Corporation, Doshisha University, and the incorporation of NuttX in the SPRESENSE TM board by Sony Group Corporation, showcasing the robust real-time capabilities essential for the success of the mission.

As Apache NuttX makes its mark on the moon, this cosmic success not only marks a huge technological achievement but also shows the potential of open-source innovation in space. Ongoing data analysis, including driving logs, holds the promise of revealing further insights, with results anticipated for future publication.

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