On This Day in Space! July 3, 1998: Japan launches Nozomi Mars mission, ,

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On July 3, 1998, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Nozomi spacecraft on a mission to Mars. This would be the country’s first probe to go to another planet.

Nozomi was supposed to arrive at Mars in Oct. of 1999, but an electrical malfunction left it lingering in a heliocentric orbit without enough fuel to get there on schedule. Mission scientists then re-routed the spacecraft so it would arrive at Mars in Dec. of 2003.

An artist’s Illustration of the Nozomi Mars orbiter built by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. (Image credit: JAXA)

However, a powerful solar flare that hit the spacecraft in 2002 damaged its communications and power systems.

When Nozomi finally arrived at Mars, mission control was unable to send it into Mars’ orbit, so they abandoned the mission altogether.

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