Launch of the Planet-B spacecraft took place from Kagoshima Space
Center on an M-V vehicle on July 4, 1998. Flight operations will be
handled by Sagamihara Spacecraft Operations Center, and Martian orbit
insertion will take place in October 1999, followed immediately by data
collection. Planet-B was renamed Nozomi, or "hope," after liftoff.
The two-year mission objective is to study the structure and dynamics
of the atmosphere and ionosphere of Mars, including any interactions
with the solar wind. The results obtained will be compared with those
obtained from the Pioneer Venus Orbiter mission to better understand
the direct interactions between the planetary atmosphere and ionosphere
and the solar wind.