The solar flare shuts down, one of Nozomi’s communication systems

The solar flare shuts down the Nozomi Mars Probe’s communication system. According to Japanese space officials, communication with Japan’s Nozomi Mars Probe was recently lost due to a solar flare. One of Nozomi’s communication systems was disabled by an explosion of solar radiation on April 21, 2002.

The solar flare shuts down

According to the ISAS (Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences) of Japan, this system can take up to 6 months to be fully operational again. Meanwhile, other systems on Nozomi are operating normally, allowing mission controllers to repair the spacecraft. Originally, Nozomi was supposed to enter the orbit of Mars on October 11, 1999.

However, the spacecraft used more propellant than originally planned in the Earth’s roll maneuver on December 21, 1998. This left the spacecraft with insufficient acceleration to complete its nominal trajectory on Mars. A new trajectory was implemented whereby Nozomi would remain in heliocentric orbit for four more years and then reach Mars in December 2003.

The solar flare

Nozomi (Japanese word for “hope”), originally known as “Planet-B” before its launch, is an aeronautical mission to study the upper atmosphere of Mars and its interactions with the solar wind. In addition to studying the composition, structure, and dynamics of the Mars ionosphere, Nozomi will study the effects of the solar wind.

How the Martian atmosphere filters into space, and the interaction between the solar wind and the weak magnetic field of Mars. Nozomi will study the level of dust in the upper atmosphere of Mars, as well as the level of dust that reaches the orbit of Mars. Nozomi is also equipped with a camera system and will send images of the surface of Mars.

Japan admits its probe on Mars is failing

Japanese space officials have finally confirmed that their Mars-bound Nozomi probe is on the brink of failure. After months of silence and a week of half-truths, Japanese space officials finally confirmed that their Mars-bound Nozomi probe is on the brink of failure in its five-year quest to explore the Red Planet.

During this journey, Nozomi became the first spacecraft to make an Earth-Mars-Earth journey after navigation and power problems thwarted the original plans of the mission managers. The simple flight plan and sophisticated space navigation gave the probe an unprecedented second chance on Mars. But that space odyssey now seems doomed.

communication system

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency described how the probe is “right now under the ‘final challenge’ to correct its malfunction.” JAXA said the mission team “will focus on the repair effort until its outcome is clearly known.”

This concentration was offered as an explanation for why no one could clearly tell the public what was really going on until now. “While [the] team is at work,” the statement read, “please give us a little more time around December 10. When the final result is known, we are ready to explain everything clearly.”

Veterans of space flight operations have told MSNBCcom that refusing to surrender despite the odds is a reasonable approach. However, he expressed dismay at Japan’s insincerity with audiences, especially as it could create false hopes that would later fade.

Mars Flotilla

The Nozomi Orbiter is one of four spacecraft that will converge on Mars in the next two months. According to the latest status report, the other three probes – the European Space Agency’s Mars Express and two of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers – are still on track and in good working order. Mars Express will enter Martian orbit on Christmas Day and send a British-made Beagle 2 lander to the surface, while NASA rovers will arrive on January 3 and 24.

There was an uproar in the press last week about Nozomi’s problems. Hajime Hayakawa, the mission’s project manager, told a reporter in Tokyo that his team was still trying to repair the probe’s faulty electrical circuit. But he acknowledged that “if we can’t fix Nozomi’s problems in time, it is very likely that it won’t be able to enter the orbit of Mars.”

“At this point, we do not know the percentage probability of successfully entering the orbit of Mars,” Hayakawa said. Also last week, the spacecraft’s manager, Ichiro Nakatani, assured the California-based that “Nozomi is in the correct orbit to reach Mars on December 14 (JST).”

The solar flare shuts down
The solar flare shuts down

It is true that we have a problem with one of the subsystems and we are now in the process of a recovery operation, Nakatani said. None of the officials provided an assessment of the likelihood of a successful recovery.

But The Associated Press quoted Firoz Naderi as saying. The manager of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Nozomi “probably won’t make it. Also, he was quoted as saying that the obituary has not yet come out, but now you can barely detect a pulse. “.

The solar flare

Sources in the planetary science community have privately told MSNBC.com that the probe’s beam control system was severely damaged by a solar flare a year and a half ago. This would prevent the probe from sending back scientific data, and would also affect the operation of the propellant tank heaters.

Which are supposed to prevent liquid fuel from freezing when the spacecraft moves away from the Sun. If the fuel is frozen, the rocket The main spacecraft cannot fire and the probe cannot be placed in Martian orbit as planned.

The Delta version is causing outbreaks around the world. Do vaccines work against you? Since early last summer, Japanese ground control engineers have been repeatedly sending commands to the power control system, waiting for it to move to a configuration to accept and comply with the commands.

Nozomi’s prospects

But after thousands of radio commands from Earth, the probe remained unresponsive. Foreign scientists with equipment involved in the Nozomi probe were also not informed of the progress of the recovery effort. Finally, at a space conference in Houston this week, the director of JAXA’s Washington office made a depressing assessment of Nozomi’s prospects.

In response to a direct question about the status of the investigation, Masato Koyama told the audience: “The system is difficult to recover.” He told conferences that he did not believe the recovery would be successful. JAXA’s statement on Friday contradicted a Tokyo press report that the probe was doomed to hit Mars and possibly contaminate the planet. Such a scenario would violate an international “space quarantine” treaty.

theoretical probability

“The truth is that Nozomi, if it is working, will reach a distance of 894 kilometers [559 miles] from the surface of Mars on December 14,” the statement said. If we take into account the orbital error, the theoretical probability of hitting Mars is more or less than 1 percent. “

“If it is not restored,” the statement continued, “we will try to adjust the closest approach as far as possible of 894 kilometers. In this case, Nozomi, once close to Mars, escapes from the gravitational field of Mars. It will become a planet. artificial that will revolve around the orbit of the Sun forever “.

exploration orbit 

The onboard probe is an aluminum plaque bearing the names of those who responded to a pre-launch campaign to “send their names to Mars.” Instead of reaching Mars, the statement said, “the names of 270,000 people will continue to orbit the Sun for hundreds of millions of years.”

Nozomi launched in mid-1998 and flew near Mars for the first time late the following year. However, it was unable to enter its planned exploration orbit and instead had to circle the Sun, fly twice over Earth to change its orbit, and then head to Mars a second time. JAXA’s statement revealed that the controllers have not yet given up hope for Nozomi (which means “hope” in Japanese).

small rocket

We believe that what the mission team can do is not give up, but do their best until the last minute, said JAXA. Mission managers would not admit defeat until December 9, five days before the scheduled arrival, when a planned small rocket was used to shorten the approach path to move the probe as far from Mars as possible. So for now, neither the Nozomi probe, nor its handlers, and the thousands of ordinary Japanese whose names are written on it, have yet to be completely lost.

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