Japan’s Akatsuki Probe on its way to Venus

A few days ago the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched the Akatsuki probe from the Tanegashima spaceport in Kagoshima Prefecture. The Venus Climate Orbitor a very sophisticated probe  featuring specialized cameras,  sensors specially designed to study Venus’ atmosphere and surface.

Mission Overview

Venus is one of the most attractive targets in the solar system when we seek to understand the formation of the terrestrial environment. Venus is our nearest neighbor, and has a size very similar to the Earth’s; however, previous spacecraft missions discovered an extremely dense (~92 bar) and dry CO2 atmosphere with H2SO4-H2O clouds floating at high altitudes, and exotic volcanic features covering the whole planet.

The Venus Climate Orbiter (VCO) of Japan aims to elucidate the mechanism of the mysterious atmospheric circulation of Venus, with secondary targets being the exploration of the ground surface and the zodiacal light observation during the cruise to Venus. The exploration of the Venusian meteorology is given a high priority not only for understanding the climate of Venus but also for the general understanding of planetary fluid dynamics.

Venus Climate Orbitor Video

I blogged about the JAXA Venus Climate Orbitor Mission late last year and made a geektastic reference to the “Akatsuki” anime fans are more familiar with. I really hope this exploration mission is a success, now lets wait to see how JAXA’s space experiment with fish goes when it that is launched next year.

Akatsuki/Planet-C Official Website
JAXA post Akatsuki launch press release