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Tag Archives: JAXA

From a news article in Nature, April 12, 2016:

After an unplanned 5-year detour, Japan’s Venus probe, Akatsuki, has come back to life and provided new images of Venus. These include a detailed shot of streaked, acidic clouds and a mysterious moving ‘bow’ shape in the planet’s atmosphere.



Akatsuki, which means ‘dawn’ in Japanese, launched in 2010 and was supposed to enter into orbit around Venus later that year to study the planet’s thick atmosphere. The mission would include looking for signs of active volcanos and other geology. However, upon entry, a fault in a valve caused the probe’s main engine to blow, and the craft entered an orbit around the Sun. As Akatsuki passed near Venus in December, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) engineers managed to salvage the mission by instructing the craft’s much smaller, secondary thrusters to push it into a looping elliptical orbit around the planet. Its suite of five cameras capture light ranging from infrared to ultraviolet.

A highly detailed shot show dense layers within Venus’s sulfuric acid clouds. The highest-quality infrared image of this view of Venus, it suggests that the processes that underlie cloud formation might be more complicated than previously thought.


From an article on Sky and Telescope by David Dickinson, originally posted on December 9, 2015.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Venus Climate Orbitor Akatsuki is finally orbiting Venus – five years later than planned. After a catastrophic main engine failure in 2010 causing the spacecraft to fly past Venus instead of entering its orbit, scientists and engineers have salvaged the mission and put Akatsuki back on track.


Credit: JAXA

On December 6th 2015, five years to the day of the original blip, four tiny reaction-control thrusters burned for more than 20 minutes to insert the spacecraft into Venusian orbit. Engineers had tested these thrusters to ensure it was possible back in 2011, before putting the spacecraft into hibernation to prolong its life. The first opportunity to execute the manouver came at the beginning of this month, and it proved to be second time lucky for JAXA’s spacecraft.

The six instruments aboard the Akatsuki spacecraft will probe Venus’s atmosphere, measuring its rotation and convection.Researchers also hope to detect evidence for Venusian lightning using a high-speed imager aboard the spacecraft. Viewing across radio, infrared, visible and ultraviolet wavelengths, the payload will also record heat radiated from the Venusian surface and may spot active volcanoes if they exist. A series of radio occultation experiments will also allow researchers to probe the depths of the Venusian atmosphere as the spacecraft makes successive passes behind the planet as seen from Earth.

In addition to the science payload, JAXA also teamed up with the Planetary Society to carry more than 260,000 people’s names and messages printed on aluminium plates aboard the spacecraft.

Whilst the new orbit time is much longer than originally planned, with a closest approach of 400km as opposed to the intended 300km, the JAXA engineers have saved the mission from disaster. Akatsuki, meaning ‘dawn’ in Japanese, will begin to send back its findings in 2016, and as it’s the first time that JAXA have managed to put a spacecraft in orbit around another planet, their wait will hopefully be rewarded.

For more information on the terrestrial planets, see Chapter 6 of The Cosmos.

Link to the original article here.

From a news report on, April 20, 2015:

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has unveiled the plan for a Moon lander. If successful, Japan will be the fourth country to send an unmanned probe to the moon after Russia, the United States, and China.

JAXA plans to launch the mission as early as 2018, with a development cost estimated at up to 15 billion yen ($126 million). The probe, named SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon), will be carried by the nation’s solid-fuel “Epsilon” rocket.

Link: article.

From a JAXA press release, December 3, 2014:

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 26 with the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” on board at 1:22 p.m. on December 3, 2014 (Japan Standard Time) from the Tanegashima Space Center. The launch vehicle flew as planned, and at approximately one hour, 47 minutes and 21 seconds after liftoff, the separation of the Hayabusa2 to Earth-escape trajectory was confirmed.


Credit: JAXA

The asteroid explorer “Hayabusa2” is a successor to the “Hayabusa”, which verified various new exploration technologies and returned to Earth in June 2010. “Hayabusa2” is setting out on a journey to clarify the origin and evolution of the Solar System as well as search for organic matter.

Links: JAXA press release, including detailed flight sequence.