Space Robotics

Japan's Nozomi Mars Craft Still Has Hope

Posted 18 Jun 2003 at 00:30 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

CNN says that Japan's Mars-bound craft Nozomi is preparing for its last Earth swingby before its final slingshot to Mars. I didn't know that there was a fourth craft going to Mars but sure enough Japan has a Mars mission too! I suppose I didn't know about Japan's mission because Japan launched it about 5 years ago and since that time the cookie has had nothing but bad fortune. The craft is named Nozomi which is the Japanese word for 'Hope' and it seems to have survived bad swingbys and loss of a lot of its fuel and encountered damaging solar flares and who knows what else. To correct for all of these problems the Kagoshima Space Center has had to put the probe on a wild slingshot trajectory and it's finally about to get away from Earth and go on about its way to Mars. If it does make it past this one last swingby without dieing, its heater is on the blink and it may cause a total failure of the craft eventually. But hope isn't all lost for the probe, if it makes it to Mars and survives the cold, it will measure the Martian magnetic field and search for water.

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