Nozomi, Planet B

[Nozomi spacecraft] Japan's Nozomi (for Hope; former Planet B) Mars orbiter was successfully launched on July 4, 1998 with a M-V-3 rocket, and flew two Lunar swingbys on September 24 and on December 18, 1998, and one Earth swingby on December 20, 1998. It was scheduled to arrive at Mars on October 11, 1999, but due to a problem in its propulsion system, got "insufficient acceleration" in its Earth flyby and consequent course correction. A new orbit was calculated, and after two more Earth swingbys on December 20, 2002 and June 19, 2003, and a delay of more than four years, arrived in the neighborhood of Mars in December 2003 with a re-scheduled orbital insertion on December 14, 2003.

Unfortunately, the electric system of Nozomi as well as the S band antenna suffered damage from a heavy Solar eruption in April, 2002, limiting the communication possibilities with the spacecraft. The resulting problems in the electrical system made the heating for the spacecraft propellant fail, so that the propellant was frozen and unavailable for manouvering. Attempts to heat the propellant with solar radiation failed to resolve this problem.

Eventually, a correction maneuver on December 9, 2003 failed, so that Japan's space agency, JAXA, decided to abandon the mission. Nozomi was lifted into a safe flyby orbit to avoid a crash of the unsterilzed spacecraft on the Martian surface, and passed the Martian surface at a height of 860 km on December 14, 2003. It is now in a Solar orbit and remains in interplanetary space.

Nozomi's mission had been to study Mars' upper atmosphere.


[Earth and Moon from Nozomi]

Earth and Moon from Nozomi

Further images: Links

Hartmut Frommert [contact]

[Mars] | [Spider] @ [SEDS]

Last Modification: June 2, 2008