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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

JAXA Enters Venusian Orbit

Men may be from Mars, and women from Venus, which may explain why the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is making its moves on the cloudy planet of Venus. Okay, probably not.

Venus, is the second-closest planet orbiting around Sol, our sun, with Earth being the third-closest. Venus is often called Earth's sister planet as it shares similarities in size, mass, density and volume.

After a failed attempt back on December 7, 2010 to enter the orbit of Venus due to a failure within its main engine, JAXA's space probe, Akatsuki (the name means dawn or daybreak), was successful five years later on December 6, 2015.

After that initial failure sent, JAXA placed the Akatsuki probe into 'hibernation' until it could figure out how to save the mission.

The plan called for the probe's eight RCS (reaction control system) thrusters to alter it's trajectory and place it back in the best possible path to enter the orbit of Venus. It took five years, but the plan worked.    

The Akatsuki Venus Climate Orbiter or Planet-C project was initially launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan on May 21, 2010 atop an H-IIA 202 rocket along with the IKAROS solar sail craft.
 Its mission was to examine the atmosphere of Venus to true and predict behavior, with the aid of the infrared cameras, an ultraviolet imager, a lightning and airglow camera, and an ultra-stable oscillator for radio observations.

Now in orbit, Akatsuki has not yet begun to make atmospheric observations, as JAXA says it wants to take the next couple of days to ensure it is in the best possible orbit path to get the best possible results.

"Watch out for that tree!"

If you recall the theme song for George of the Jungle, you'll recall that sometimes stuff happens, so I applaud JAXA for taking the time (this time) to ensure the mission will be five years correct.  

Andrew Joseph
PS: Images above are courtesy of JAXA, and are computer-generated illustrations depicting the Akatsuki in orbit around Venus.

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