Japan’s AKATSUKI Will Get a Second Chance at Venus Next Week

Note: this is a repost of an article from Feb. 2015 with a couple of updates. If any of you remember it back in Dec. 2010 Japan’s Venus Climate Orbiter spacecraft AKATSUKI (aka Planet-C), after a five and a half month journey through space, failed to enter orbit around Venus due to a faulty thruster nozzle….

AKATSUKI to Get a Second Chance at Venus in December

If any of you remember this, back in Dec. 2010 Japan’s Venus Climate Orbiter spacecraft AKATSUKI (or Planet-C), after a five and a half month journey through space, failed to enter orbit around Venus due to a faulty thruster nozzle. It sailed right past the cloud-covered planet, going into orbit around the Sun. Fortunately, JAXA mission engineers…

Happy Birthday, ISS!

It’s been 15 years since the first piece of what we now know as the International Space Station left the surface of our planet. It was Russia’s Zarya module, launched aboard a Proton rocket on Nov. 20, 1998, and the U.S. followed suit two weeks later with the Unity module sent aboard the shuttle Endeavour….

Like Ships in the Night – Akatsuki Sails Right Past Venus

So close, but yet so far. In a poignant farewell, Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft returned this image of Venus as it sped off into space, its attempt at establishing orbit having failed on Wednesday, December 8. The $300 million scientific observatory was created to study the atmosphere of our neighboring planet, as well as use its…

Out of the Blue

Japan’s Akatsuki (PLANET-C) spacecraft, launched on May 20, captured this image of home as it sped away on its six-month journey to Venus. Using its ultraviolet camera Akatsuki (“Dawn” in Japanese) saw the crescent Earth as a bright electric blue from a distance of over 155,000 miles away, on May 21, 2010. Akatsuki (as well…

KAGUYA’s Lunar Legacy

On Monday JAXA released more footage taken by the KAGUYA orbiter during its lunar mapping mission. KAGUYA spent several months flying over the moon at altitudes ranging from 10-50km (about 6-30 miles) taking video with its high-definition camera before finally ending its mission and crash landing onto the moon on June 10, 2009. The sequence…

Send your message to Venus!

The AKATSUKI Message Campaign Next year, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will launch its Planet-C Venus Climate Orbiter, which will explore the atmosphere of Venus and investigate wind dynamics, cloud formation and other meteorological mechanics of Earth’s neighboring planet. And from now until December 25, you can register online to add your name and…

Final Frame

This haunting photo is the last image sent back by Japan’s KAGUYA probe before it crashed into the lunar surface at the end of its mission on June 10, 2009. A tiny sliver of sunlight illuminates the rocky rim of a crater as the probe’s high-definition camera stares into the pitch black lunar shadows below….