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Saturday, November 22, 2003

Nozomi Dying, Possible Contamination Threat

Nozomi undergoing launch integration.
Nozomi undergoing launch integration.
Credit: ISAS
Japan's Nozomi spacecraft, delayed for years due to damage from a solar flare, was recently seen to be finally back on track. Now, new releases from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency indicate that Nozomi may not reach Mars orbit at all and may instead crash into Mars, causing the potential for biological contamination of the surface.

The final failure on the beseiged orbiter has been the electrical system, which is currently blocking Japan from making crucial thruster burns to correct the path of the probe. Although the agency still has hope for the craft, the question is more and more becoming one of risk. It is a violation of international treaty to risk contamination of another celestial body, and the ethical and scientific implications of an accident could be catastrophic. Currently, Nozomi has around a 1% chance of colliding with the red planet.

(More info:

- posted by Brian @ 0:37 EST