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Report: Japan abandons plans to put Nozomi in Mars orbit
Posted: Tue, Dec 9, 2003, 2:06 PM ET (1906 GMT)
Nozomi (ISAS) The Japanese space agency JAXA had reportedly given up on efforts to put its Nozomi spacecraft into orbit around Mars because of ongoing problems with the spacecraft. Although JAXA has yet to issue an official statement, several news outlets reported an thruster burn planned for Tuesday to orient the spacecraft for orbital insertion failed. "Our mission to explore Mars is over." JAXA spokesman Junichi Moriuma told the AP. The spacecraft has experienced a number of problems since its launch in 1998, including a stuck thruster that forced controllers to delay the spacecraft's arrival into Martian orbit from late 1999. A solar flare in 2002 damaged spacecraft electronics, preventing the spacecraft's thrusters from working properly. Although there were reports last month that Nozomi was on a collision course with the Red Planet, the probability of collision was never more than one percent, and Moriuma said Tuesday those odds have since been reduced to "close to zero." Nozomi will continue to operate in solar orbit, and should be able to collect some data on solar activity.
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