Japan's space agency says probe now orbiting Venus

Updated: 2015-12-09 21:39


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TOKYO - The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Wednesday confirmed that its Akatsuki probe had successfully entered its intended orbit around Venus.

On Monday this week the space agency said that it had attempted for a second time to put the probe into orbit around Venus to monitor the planet's atmosphere following a failed first attempt five years ago.

The probe was first launched in May 2010 and was supposed to enter Venus' orbit in December that year but failed due to an engine misfiring.

But following JAXA reprogramming the spacecraft, it successfully fired its altitude-controlling thrusters for 20 minutes to redirect it into the orbit of Venus.

The probe began firing its thrusters around 8:50 a.m. JST on Nov. 7 to slow the speed enough to insert it into orbit, and the space agency subsequently confirmed that the 20-minute burn had likely pushed the craft into a 300,000 kilometer elliptical orbit of Venus where it will measure meteorological phenomena from the planet, which is the second closest to the Sun and orbits the earth every 224.7 days.

Communications with the probe were all as normal following the thrusters being burned, JAXA said.

The agency confirmed that its six types of observation equipment were functioning properly.

JAXA is now hoping the probe will be able to collect a plethora of data, including 3D images pertaining to the dense cloud coverage around Venus and wind speeds of some 100 meters per second high above the planet, which may be responsible for the planet rotating slower than the winds, in a phenomenon known as super-rotation.

Officials from the agency said Wednesday that the probe's meteorological data collecting will fully start in early spring next year.