June, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa
probe captured samples from the asteroid Itokawa and
with the help of NASA and three
American teens, landed successfully in Australia.
Japan has never attempted a manned flight, in 1970 it
was the first Asian nation to put a satellite in orbit around
the Earth.Now the country's first ever probe to reach a
planet is attempting to orbit Venus for a two-year
mission. According to Japan's space agency, the
Planet-C Venus Climate Orbiter (also called Akatsuki,
which means dawn), had
lost contact with the ground crew. While Akatsuki is
struggling in its attempt, scientists anticipate that it will be
would be the first time that Japan has achieved this effort. In
1998, the Nozomi Mars mission experienced technical difficulties
while attempting to place probes in orbit around Mars.
launched the Akatsuki probe in May. The meteorological satellite is
expected to monitor weather patterns on the planet.
with infrared cameras, the 25 billion yen ($300 million USB) project
is designed to track volcanic activity, determine whether the planet
has lightning, provide data on cloud cover and climate, and monitor
the intensity of surface winds (which scientists believe can reach
speeds of up to 220 miles per hour). Called super-rotation, the
winds blow in the same direction the planet rotates, but are 60 times
faster according to mission project scientist, Takeshi Imamura.
information about the Akatsuki probe and its impending journey can be
found on the JAXA
website or via updates on Twitter.
quote: JAXA, Japan’s space agency, has announced that their mission to Venus, Akatsuki, did not succeed in entering orbit as planned on December 6.