The Planetary Society

July 29, 1998

Japanese Spacecraft Takes Its First Image

Nozomi's Mars Imaging Camera Captures New View of Earth and Its Moon

The Earth/Moon image is available at these locations:

On July 18, two weeks after its picture-perfect launch, the Japanese Nozomi spacecraft captured its first image -- a view of Earth and its Moon. Taking this image was an important test of the spacecraft's Mars imaging camera, which Nozomi will use when it reaches the Red Planet in October 1999.

The Mars imaging camera took the image and transmitted it to Earth at 8:39 Universal Time on July 18. At the time the image was captured, Nozomi was 168,100 kilometers (about 104,450 miles) away from Earth and 535,300 kilometers (332,620 miles) away from the Moon.

On July 4, Nozomi began its journey to Mars. The orbiter, designed to gather information about how Mars' atmosphere interacts with the solar wind, was launched by an M-5 rocket from the Kagoshima Space Center on Kyushu Island, Japan. After liftoff, the spacecraft previously known as Planet-B was renamed Nozomi, a Japanese word for "hope" or "expectations."

With the Mars imaging camera, Nozomi will gather images of sand storms and other atmospheric phenomena. And the 11 billion yen ($80 million) orbiter will examine the planet's atmosphere to study how it interacts with the solar wind and how the planet's thin oxygen escapes into space.

Mission engineers at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) note that Nozomi will make two lunar swing-bys and one Earth swing-by until the spacecraft leaves Earth's gravity field on December 20 of this year. The spacecraft is scheduled to begin orbiting Mars on October 11, 1999.

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