A Japanese spacecraft that overshot Venus last month may get a chance to redeem itself one year earlier than scientists had originally thought.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is now considering trying to send the Akatsuki spacecraft into orbit around Venus five years from now.
Previously, JAXA officials had said a second try could be attempted sometime between December 2016 and January 2017 after Akatsuki missed its Venus arrival. An earlier attempt to swing back on course would be welcome news for the Akatsuki spacecraft and mission team.
Lost Venus spacecraft
The $300 million Akatsuki spacecraft — whose name means "dawn" in Japanese — got within 342 miles (550 kilometers) of Venus the night of Dec. 6, after more than six months of interplanetary travel. It began firing its thrusters in an orbital-insertion burn, a maneuver designed to slow the craft enough to allow the planet’s gravity snag it.
The thrusters were supposed to fire for 12 minutes, but they conked out after only 2 1/2 minutes, JAXA officials have said. An unexpected pressure drop in the spacecraft’s fuel line — or possibly damage to the probe’s engine nozzle — are the likely causes, they added.
As a result, the Akatsuki probe sailed right past Venus, scuttling its mission to study the planet’s hellish climate and weather in unprecedented detail.
Read the rest of the story: Troubled Japanese Venus Probe May Get Early Shot at Redemption.
A Japanese probe reached Venus on Tuesday and prepared to enter orbit on a two-year mission that would mark a major milestone for Japan’s space program and could shed light on the climate of Earth’s mysterious neighbor.
The probe, called Akatsuki, which means "dawn," would be the first Japan has ever placed into orbit around another planet and comes after the country recently brought a probe back from a trip to an asteroid.
Other space programs, including the Americans’ and the Europeans’, have successfully launched missions to orbit other planets.
Scientists said they briefly lost contact with the probe early Tuesday. They encountered new communication problems later in the day and were not able to confirm if it was successful.
Agency spokesman Tsutomu Yoshioka said it would take several more hours than expected to determine the probe’s status.
Japan has been overshadowed in recent years by the big strides of China, which has put astronauts in space twice since 2003 and was the third country to send a human into orbit after Russia and the United States,
However, Japan has long been one of the world’s leading space-faring nations. It was the first Asian country to put a satellite in orbit around the Earth — in 1970 — and has developed a highly reliable booster rocket in its H-2 series.
Read the rest of the story:Japan probe reaches Venus, prepares to enter orbit.
A Japanese rocket blasted off early Friday carrying a Venus probe and a kite-shaped “space yacht” designed to float through the cosmos using only the power of the sun.
The launch vehicle, the H-IIA rocket, took off from the Tanegashima space centre in southern Japan on schedule at 6:58 am (Thursday 2158 GMT), three days after its original launch was postponed by bad weather.
Live footage on the website of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) showed the rocket disappear into the sky.
“The rocket is flying normally,” JAXA said 20 minutes after blast-off.
It carried with it the experimental “Ikaros” — an acronym for Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun — designed to be propelled by the pressure of sunlight particles.
Similar to an ocean yacht pushed by wind, the device has a square, ultra-thin and flexible sail, measuring 14 by 14 metres (46 by 46 feet), that will be driven through space as it is pelted by solar particles.
The sail, only a fraction of the thickness of a human hair, is also partly coated with thin-film solar cells to generate electricity.
Read the rest of the article: Japan rocket blasts off with ‘space yacht’ and Venus probe