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Nozomi hobbled by solar flares
Posted: Fri, May 24, 2002, 8:06 PM ET (0006 GMT)
Nozomi (ISAS) Controllers have lost communications with Nozomi, a Mars-bound Japanese spacecraft, after solar flares damaged the spacecraft, the AP reported Friday. An official with Japan's Education Ministry, which oversees Japan's space agencies, said that communications with Nozomi were lost on April 21 after a solar flare; the report gave no indication why the news was not publicized until now. Engineers believe that the flare corrupted software on the spacecraft. New versions of the software will be uploaded over the next six months. Nozomi (Japanese for "hope") was launched in 1998 and had intended to go into orbit around Mars in late 1999 to study the planet's interaction with magnetic fields and particles. However, a thruster problem consumed more propellant than planned, forcing controllers to wait until 2003, when a more favorable trajectory will allow the spacecraft to go into orbit with its limited propellant.
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