Add one more problem to the beleaguered Japanese Mars probe, Nozomi. There are worries in some science quarters that the troubled spacecraft could possibly contaminate Mars. Nozomi will find itself at the red planet in December, years behind its originally intended arrival time.
A Japanese space probe plagued by technical problems has made its final flyby of the Earth and is on its way to Mars, space program officials said Friday. The probe, named Nozomi, which means Hope, passed within 6,800 miles of the Earth in a manuever designed to use the planet’s gravity to slingshot the probe toward Mars. Mission planners would not be able to determine whether the flyby, conducted just before midnight Thursday, was a success for about another week, according to a statement by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science.
This year’s “Mars hunt” should soon have a new participant: After five involuntarily idle years in space, the Japanese craft “Nozomi” will try an Earth swing-by this week when it passed Earth as close as 11,000 kilometers July 19 (at 14.43 GMT), and by using the Earth’s gravity, was set on a new trajectory towards the red planet where it should arrive around New Year.
A Japanese space craft is making a close approach to the Earth as it attempts to gather speed for its journey to Mars. The probe, Nozomi, which means hope in Japanese, was damaged by a solar flare soon after launch and may not reach its destination. Its heating system is not working and must be fixed somehow to stop the space craft missing Mars and getting lost in space.
Five years late, low on fuel and with its heating system on the blink, Japan’s first Mars-bound probe, the $88 million Nozomi, or “Hope,” appears to be in serious trouble. Mission controllers trying to keep the mission alive face a major test Thursday, when Nozomi is scheduled to make its second swingby of Earth. The maneuver is intended to use the Earth’s gravity as a slingshot to send the probe on its final trajectory to Mars. Experts admit the probe is limping.
The Japanese Mars exploration mission Nozomi launched on July 4, 1998, is now cruising in interplanetary orbit, and on target for a final flyby of Earth ahead of insertion into Mars orbit at the end of 2003. On December 21, 2002, the explorer came close to Earth and successfully implemented the earth swingby. Nozomi will execute the earth swingby again on June 19, 2003, and enter into cruising orbit inside the ecliptic plane. At the end of this year, the explorer will be ready to enter into the Mars orbit.
Japanese Mars Probe Back on Track Astronomy.com
Scientists at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) in Japan are bringing their first interplanetary mission, Nozomi, back to life. On April 21, 2002, the spacecraft was bombarded by extremely energetic solar particles from a coronal mass ejection, which pounded the craft for over six hours and caused a temporary shutdown. But engineers are now confident that the mission will soon be back on track. Originally known as “Planet-B,” Nozomi was renamed after launch to the Japanese word for “hope.” It is en route to Mars, where it will study the planet’s atmosphere and ionosphere.
Communication with Japan’s Nozomi Mars Probe was all but severed recently due to a solar flare according to Japanese space officials. One of Nozomi’s communication systems was rendered inoperable by a burst of solar radiation on 21 April 2002. According to Japan’s ISAS (Institute of Space and Astronautical Science) it may take up to 6 months to get the system fully operational again. Meanwhile other systems on Nozomi are operating normally thus allowing mission controllers to repair the spacecraft. Nozomi was originally supposed to enter orbit around Mars on 11 October 1999. However, the spacecraft used more propellant than originally planned in an Earth swingby maneuver on 21 December 1998 . This left the spacecraft with insufficient acceleration to complete its nominal trajectory to Mars. A new trajectory was implemented whereby Nozomi will remain in heliocentric orbit for an additional four years and then reach Mars in December 2003.
NOZOMI, Sun, Earth and Moon in a Straight Line SpaceRef.com
The spacecraft NOZOMI, scheduled to enter Mars orbit early in the year 2004, is cruising smoothly along its heliocentric orbit. The distance from earth is 360 million km, and it takes at least 20 minutes for radio waves to reach the spacecraft. Thus, it takes 40 minutes for answers to return after commands have been sent. On the morning of January 10, 2001, a total lunar eclipse occurred, and exactly at that time, NOZOMI moved behind the sun as viewed from the earth. Four celestial bodies (one man-made spacecraft) arranged in a straight line is a very rare event. Of course, the event has no special meaning for researchers other than Nostradamus. However, since NOZOMI was located on the opposite side of the sun, solar noise prevents contact for about three weeks. From December 28, 2000, until January 20, 2001, NOZOMI was incommunicado. Because of this, which is known by the astronomical term “conjunction,” which of course had been predicted during the orbit design, the NOZOMI project team proceeded with various preparations for the safe completion of the voyage.
International collaboration between Europe and Japan took a step forward last month when scientists building instruments for ESA’s Mars Express mission travelled to Japan for a meeting with their counterparts on Nozomi, the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science’s (ISAS) mission to Mars.