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Moon lander: Japan's Slim reactivates and gets to work

As the Japanese Space Agency put it: "Operations resumed!"

After the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) re-established contact with its Moon lander on Sunday night, the craft started to study its surroundings in detail and transmit new images to Earth.

The lander is carrying out analysis that could inform future, much longer missions to the Moon.

One lunar scientist told BBC News: "Now we're really seeing the science."

The craft is at a very awkward angle. A picture, captured by the small baseball-sized robot called Sora-Q - which was ejected from Slim moments before touchdown - showed the lander face-down on the lunar surface.

That left its solar panels facing away from the sunlight and unable to generate power. The decision was taken to put the lander into sleep mode - and conserve what power remained - less than three hours after it landed.

That tactic appears to have worked. A change in the direction of the sunlight has now "awoken" the craft.

The mission team had already been able to study images of the landing site and have picked out specific rocks in the area and given each one the name of a dog breed - apparently to give an indication of the size of each rock. On Monday, the team released a grey, rocky close-up image - this was the lander's scientific camera zooming in on a rock that has been named "toy poodle".

It might not look like a spectacular photograph, but the snapshot was taken with what is called the Multi-Band Camera or MBC, which can essentially capture images that reveal the composition of the rock.

"The camera responds differently - in different wavelengths - to each of the minerals that are in this rock," explained Open University lunar scientist Dr Simeon Barber.

Seeing that will enable