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Nozomi is Japanese for "wish" or "hope."

Nozomi the spacecraft

The Nozomi space probe, also known as Planet-B, is the first Japanese spacecraft to travel to Mars. It was launched aboard an M-V rocket on July 4, 1998 from NASDA's Kagoshima Space Center, and is scheduled to reach the red planet early in 2004. It weighs just over half a ton (half of which is fuel) and it carries special instruments to study the atmosphere of Mars, including cameras, magnetic sensors, electron thermometers, spectrometers, and dust detectors.

You can learn more about Nozomi at http://www.isas.ac.jp/e/enterp/missions/nozomi/cont.html.

Nozomi the train

Nozomi is also the name of the fastest class of Shinkansen "bullet trains" that run between Tokyo and Fukuoka. The Nozomi trains only stop at the largest cities en route, allowing them to make the trip from Tokyo to Osaka in just two and a half hours, which is quicker than flying if you count ground transportation and check-in time.

Farther west, the Nozomi is even faster: the segment between Hiroshima and Kokura is the fastest scheduled rail service in the world, with 500-series trains (see Shinkansen Types) reaching speeds of nearly 300 kph (190 mph).

As gn0sis has kindly reminded me, the Nozomi is the only JR train that you can't ride on with a Japan Rail Pass.

Nozomi the lady

Nozomi is also a fairly popular girl's name. It can be written in a number of kanji combinations: the one above is common, but you can also find Nozomis who spell their name , 望美, or 希美. There are even a few boys who are named Nozomi: the soccer player Nozomi Hiroyama, for instance.

After five years of limping injured to Mars, the Nozomi mission has been abandoned.

Problems with the Nozomi Mission

December, 1998: Too much fuel used during a course correction
A malfunctioning valve during the December 20, 1998 Earth swingby cause the spacecraft to use much more fuel then originally planned and left Nozomi unable to reach Mars using its current flight path. A new plan was formatted: to have Nozomi orbit the Sun for four years and wait for a more opportune moment and, using gravity assists from Earth, reach Mars at a slower relative velocity.

April 2002: Powerful solar flares disrupt systems
During the Earth gravity assist on April 21, 2002 solar flares damaged the communication and power systems. The heating system failed due to an electrical short and Nozomi’s remaing fuel reserves froze. As Nozomi approached Earth, the fuel thawed and the flyby was successful.

December 2003: The final straw A second and final Earth swingby occurred June 19, 2003. The maneuver was successful, and the craft limped towards Mars, injured, but still functional. However, the December 9, 2003 maneuver to position the craft for Mars orbital insertion failed. The mission was for all intents and purposes abandoned. To reduce chances of crashing into Mars and contaminating it, the craft was inserted into a 2-year heliocentric orbit.

Nozomi will remain in its highly elliptical orbit, conducting alternative missions including monitoring solar activity. In other Mars news, the European Space Agency’s Beagle 2 also is having problems. The Mars Exploration Rovers are set to reach Mars in January 2004.

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