Japan has released its first stunning photos of Venus in lieu of the successful launch of the Akatsuki aircraft, which arrived in the planet’s orbit earlier this month.
This is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA’s) second attempt at a visit to Venus; the first attempt occurred on December 6, 2010 but failed after the spacecraft’s main engine conked out due to a sudden spike in temperature, causing the spacecraft to veer off course and stumble into outer space.
Akatsuki, which translates to “dawn” in Japanese, has spent the last five and a half years bidding its time by circling the sun and waiting for the next opportunity to visit Venus. That opportunity arose on Sunday as Akatsuki fired its small attitude-control thrusters for approximately 20 minutes in order to achieve Venus orbit.
JAXA has reported that Akatsuki is currently in “good health.” It was also revealed in a statement released by JAXA Thursday that the planet’s orbit period is thirteen days and fourteen hours. ” We also found that the orbiter is flying in the same direction as that of Venus’s rotation,” JAXA officials said.
Discovery reports that at its closest, Akatsuki, which has been dubbed “the comeback kid,” will be within 248 miles of the scorching planet, and 243,000 miles away at its farthest.
This is Japan’s second interplanetary mission. The first, the Nozomi Mars probe, was scheduled to land on the Red Planet in 2003, but failed to due so. Then, the Kayuga orbiter successfully launched to the moon in 2007 to study the lunar surface, but the mission concluded in 2009 after Kayuga crashed into it.
According to JAXA Akatsuki and its data, photo-capturing apparatuses are soon set to be tested for functionality. Regular scientific operations for the mission are scheduled to begin in April, 2016.