Nozomi (space probe)
The name Nozomi comes from Japanese and means "hope". After the first Japanese space probes Sakigake , Suisei and Hiten , Nozomi, known as Planet-B before launch, was supposed to represent Japan's transition from the experimental to the research phase.
Instruments and Mission
The probe, which weighs 258 kg without fuel, has 15 different experiments and instruments on board. Involved were Germany , Canada , Sweden and the United States . For 1999 it was planned to swivel into an elliptical orbit around Mars. The probe should remain active in Mars orbit for two years. Research goals were in particular the Martian atmosphere and its interaction with the sun .
Nozomi was launched on July 4, 1998 on an MV launcher from the Kagoshima Space Center in Japan . Due to the time difference, Europe and the United States were still on the day of July 3rd at this time, so NASA gives the start date July 3rd. Since the launcher did not have sufficient thrust to set the probe on a direct course to Mars, the probe performed two gravity assist maneuvers on the moon , one on September 24, 1998, the other on December 18, 1998. The latter there was a malfunction in the engine, causing the probe to miss the entry point into the transfer orbit to Mars.
In the emergency plan that was then worked out, two gravity assist maneuvers on Earth were scheduled for December 21, 2002 and June 19, 2003, whereby the arrival on Mars slipped onto the window in 2003.
In April 2002 the probe was badly damaged by a solar flare. It took months for the Japanese to regain control of the probe, so that both gravity assist maneuvers on earth could be carried out successfully.
Nevertheless, the Japanese space agency JAXA had to declare the failure of the mission on December 9, 2003 because a circuit defect in the on-board computer could not be remedied in time. The probe passed Mars on 14 December 2003 and since then flies in a distant orbit around the sun .
The Nozomi mission was a failure. However, consideration is being given to using the probe to observe solar activity.