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Sunday, July 4, 2004

Japan Planning Successor to Nozomi With Russia

The Japanese Flag.
The Japanese Flag.
Credit: Unknown
Although the recent NASA and ESA missions to Mars have changed the way we view its past and present environment and the possibility for life, they have left many holes in our knowledge. One of these holes is the amount of atmosphere Mars once contained, which could have implications for the evolution of life and the ability to terraform it. Even the morality of terraforming may be affected by Mars' past state.

Japan launched Nozomi in 1998 in the hopes of resolving the issue of past atmospheric size and composition, as well as many others. The failure of that mission reminded the spacefaring community of the incredible dangers and challenges involved in getting to Mars, but it did not stop Japan from pursuing its quest for contributing to the world's knowledge of our neighbor.

Japan hopes to contribute to a mission from another nation that tried and failed to reach Mars. Russia is planning on launching their first probe in a decade, after the Mars 96 mission failed on launch. As the ESA attempted to do with the last Russian mission, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hopes to hitch a ride on the Russian craft to put their own satellite into orbit of Mars. If successful, we will be one step closer to unlocking the secrets of Mars' past.

(More info: Daily Yomiuri)

- posted by Brian @ 15:27 EST