Japan’s First Moon Lander Touches Down with Renesas’ Rad-Hard ICs on Board

Renesas Electronics Corporation (TSE:6723), a premier supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, announced today that its radiation-hardened (rad-hard) ICs were onboard the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) spacecraft that successfully touched down on the Moon’s low latitude area on January 20, Japan Standard Time.

Operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), SLIM launched onboard an H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center, Japan on September 7, 2023. The Moon landing represents a significant milestone for Japan, as it becomes only the fifth country to successfully touch down and operate a lunar lander, after Russia, the United States, China, and India.

The spacecraft landed near the Shioli Crater, in the vicinity of the Sea of Nectar region, aiming to achieve a more precise landing than previous lunar missions, which typically had precision levels of several kilometers to tens of kilometers. JAXA is currently investigating the specifics of its pinpoint landing and plans to release further information in the coming weeks. The spacecraft is engineered to achieve exceptional landing precision, due to a vision-based object detection system and its lightweight, compact design.

This five-month-long mission is intended to help the scientific community learn about the origin of the Moon. For this purpose, the spacecraft’s payload includes a multi-band spectral camera that can determine the composition of lunar rocks derived from the Moon’s mantle.

Renesas provided a number of key components for the SLIM spacecraft’s integrated computer and electronic subsystems, which are designed to operate over a temperature range and tested to withstand total ionizing dose radiation rates as high as 300krad(Si). Among the ICs used for this mission are 3.3V and 5V RS-422 receivers, RS-422 drivers, a 16-channel analog multiplexer, a 40V rail-to-rail operational amplifier, and a 3A low-dropout voltage regulator.

The Renesas Intersil brand has a long history in the space industry spanning more than six decades, beginning with the founding of Radiation Inc. in 1950. Since then, virtually every satellite, shuttle launch, and deep-space exploration mission has included Intersil-branded products. Renesas leverages this experience to deliver efficient, thermally optimized, and highly reliable SMD, MIL-STD-883, and MIL-PRF 38535 Class-V/Q Intersil-branded products for the defense, high-reliability (Hi-Rel), and rad-hard space markets. Renesas Intersil-brand rad-hard ICs support subsystems for mission-critical applications in data communications transfer, power supplies, power conditioning, general protection circuitry, and telemetry, tracking, and control (TT&C).

Deep space is a challenging environment for spaceflight and asteroid exploration systems, particularly due to the intense radiation environment encountered in nearly all mission profiles. Design, layout, certain process technologies, and manufacturing steps like burn-in and total dose testing of ICs ensure predictable performance and prevent system failure while in flight and on long-duration robotic and crewed missions to other planets.

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