Japan makes second attempt to put probe into Venus' orbit

posted on December 7, 2015

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency carried out its second attempt Monday morning to put a probe into orbit around Venus to observe its atmosphere, five years after the first try failed due to problems with the main engine.

"It is very much expected to enter the planned orbit," JAXA professor Masato Nakamura, who is in charge of the program, told a press conference after the agency confirmed the proper functioning of the probe Akatsuki, including communications, following the burning of its remaining four thrusters as planned.

With the main engine's nozzle apparently wrecked, JAXA has programmed the probe to use altitude-control thrusters to enter an elliptical orbit up to 300,000 kilometers in altitude and eight to nine days around Venus, giving it two years to observe meteorological phenomena of the planet.

The thrusters were burnt for about 20 minutes from 8:51 a.m. to put the probe into the targeted orbit. JAXA will announce Wednesday whether Akatsuki has successfully begun orbiting there.

"It feels like I could have a weight lifted off my shoulders," Nakamura said as he expressed gratitude for continued public support to the program. Applause broke out in the Akatsuki operation room at JAXA's Sagamihara Campus in Kanagawa Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, after the thrusters were burnt.

Equipped with six types of observation equipment, Akatsuki is designed to study thick clouds shrouding Venus in three dimensions and how strong winds of over 100 meters per second cause a phenomenon known as super-rotation of the atmosphere.

source by japantoday
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