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Hope fades for Japanís Mars probe


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#1    pappagooch

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 02:51 PM

Nov. 13 ó  Japanís snake-bit space probe to Mars, the Nozomi (ďHopeĒ) mission, seems to have run out of hope and out of luck, the Tokyo newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported Thursday. Quoting Japanese space officials, the newspaper said the probe appeared to be incapable of entering a survey orbit as planned on Dec. 14. Unless it is steered aside, the probe will crash onto the planet and possibly contaminate it with earthly microbes.

JAPANíS FIRST MARS probe is approaching the target planet along with three other spacecraft. The European Space Agencyís first Mars probe will attempt to land the British-built Beagle 2 robot laboratory on the surface on Christmas Eve, and NASA is aiming to put two rovers on the surface in January.

       Nozomi blasted off on July 4, 1998, and was supposed to reach Mars by the end of the following year. On board were a camera and several other instruments to study the Martian atmosphere from orbit.

       Once in space, the craft remained in an elongated Earth orbit as it stored up energy through several swing-by maneuvers with the moon. On Dec. 20, 1998, in the midst a high-speed dash to within 600 miles (960 kilometers) of Earth, Nozomi fired its main engine to thrust itself towards Mars.

       But something went wrong with the rocket firing, and the probe wound up so far off track that two corrective burns had to be made the next day. By the time the probe was back on its proper course, its remaining fuel wasnít enough to brake itself into the desired survey orbit once it arrived at Mars.

So when Nozomi reached Mars in October 1999, it flew right on past. Back in Japan, space navigators worked out a flight plan that could bring it back to Mars again, but at a gentler approach speed. But this would require four more years of coasting through space and making a pair of Earth fly-by maneuvers (in December 2002 and last June 19).

       During this long detour, another crisis hit. On April 21, 2002, Nozomi was hit by a massive solar flare, and its power control system was knocked out. Far from the sun without heaters, the craftís hydrazine fuel tanks froze. Later, when the probe swung closer to the sun, the tank thawed enough to use the fuel for a rocket firing to keep it on course. But mission managers in Japan recognized that the fuel would freeze again before Nozomi arrived at Mars this December.

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#2    saxcatz

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Posted 17 November 2003 - 10:04 PM

Very unfortunate...  sad.gif  

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#3    Nethius

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Posted 17 November 2003 - 10:58 PM

yep, thats some bad luck!



#4    thefirstman

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 12:09 AM

Well, i have two words to say......tough luck.lol tongue.gif  

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#5    moe eubleck

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 01:03 AM

  Its just GOD's way of keeping japanese tourists off of Mars.
  ...those 70's haircuts!! Why do they all have those 70's style haircuts???  The half of me that IS japanese doesnt get it !!

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