Japanese space probe goes into orbit around Venus

An artist's impression of the Planet-C Venus Climate Orbiter, nicknamed "Akatsuki" or "Dawn", orbiting Venus
An artist's impression of the Planet-C Venus Climate Orbiter, nicknamed "Akatsuki" or "Dawn", orbiting Venus

Japan's space agency said Wednesday its "Akatsuki" probe had successfully entered into orbit around Venus after an initial attempt at reaching the second planet from the sun failed five years ago.

The success marks the first time a Japanese space has entered into the of another planet, according to Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

"The probe is functioning properly," Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) project manager Masato Nakamura said during a press conference.

"We'll conduct an inital observation for three months... We'll then shift to full observation in April," he said.

Akatsuki, meaning dawn, blasted off in 2010 on a 25.2 billion yen ($205 million at current exchange rates) mission to observe the toxic atmosphere and super-hot volcanic surface of Venus.

But the box-shaped probe failed to enter the planet's and shot past it, forcing JAXA technicians to make the second attempt.

The successful Venus orbit came a week after another Japanese space probe, "Hayabusa 2", passed by Earth to harness the planet's gravitational pull to propel it toward a far away asteroid in its quest to study the origin of the solar system.

The explorer conducted an "Earth swing-by" and came as close as 3,090 kilometres (1,900 miles) above the planet's surface, before switching its orbit to continue towards the tiny Ryugu asteroid.

Hayabusa 2 was launched a year ago on a six-year mission to bring back mineral samples from the asteroid.

It is expected to reach Ryugu, named after a mythical castle in a Japanese folk tale, in mid-2018.

If all goes well, soil samples will be returned to Earth in late 2020.

Analysing the extra-terrestrial materials could help shed light on the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago and offer clues about what gave rise to life on Earth, scientists have said.

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© 2015 AFP

Citation: Japanese space probe goes into orbit around Venus (2015, December 9) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-12-japanese-space-probe-orbit-venus.html
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Dec 09, 2015
It's nice to see Japan nailing it pretty consistently now

Dec 09, 2015
It is not made too clear in the article whether the Akatsuki probe that has entered orbit successfully is the same Akatsuki probe that missed the target five years ago. If there are two separate probes, one that missed orbit and the other that did make orbit, then shouldn't one be Akatsuki 1 and the other be Akatsuki 2? If there is only one of them, I'd like to know what went on in the five years between the two attempts at entering orbit around Venus!

Dec 09, 2015
Considering that the craft missed it was still in solar orbit near where it needed to be it could easily be just the same craft doing right what it just missed last pass. Solar orbit is easy enough, but the dynamics of intercepting a planet and making orbit is not as easy as Star Trek, but is a lot more difficult. Try the Kerbal Space simulator/game and you can find it is not easy and so the Japanese Space Program tea gets kudos for that, being able to return after a miss is even harder!

Dec 09, 2015
Congratulations. Well deserved.

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