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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

It's Official: Akatsuki Is Safely Orbiting Venus!

An image of Venus that was taken by Akatsuki using the spacecraft's ultraviolet camera on December 6, 2015 (Pacific Time)...from a distance of 73,000 km (45,000 miles).
JAXA

Venus Climate Orbiter Akatsuki Inserted Into Venus' Orbit‏ (Press Release)

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully inserted the Venus Climate Orbiter Akatsuki into the orbit circling around Venus.

As a result of measuring and calculating the Akatsuki’s orbit after its thrust ejection, the orbiter is now flying on the elliptical orbit at the apoapsis altitude of about 400 km (249 miles) and periapsis altitude of about 440,000 km (273,462 miles) from Venus. The orbit period is 13 days and 14 hours. We also found that the orbiter is flying in the same direction as that of Venus’s rotation.

The Akatsuki is in good health.

We will deploy the three scientific mission instruments namely the 2μm camera (IR2), the Lightning and Airglow Camera (LAC) and the Ultra-Stable oscillator (USO) and check their functions. JAXA will then perform initial observations with the above three instruments along with the three other instruments whose function has already been confirmed, the Ultraviolet Imager (UVI), the Longwave IR camera (LIR), and the 1μm camera (IR1) for about three months. At the same time, JAXA will also gradually adjust the orbit for shifting its elliptical orbit to the period of about nine days. The regular operation is scheduled to start in April, 2016.

Orbit calculation result (as of Dec. 9):

Periapsis altitude: About 400 km (249 miles)

Apoasis altitude: About 440,000 km (273,462 miles)

Inclination: About 3 degrees against Venus’ revolution plane

Period: About 13 days and 14 hours

Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

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An image of Venus that was taken by Akatsuki using the spacecraft's one-micron infrared camera on December 6, 2015 (Pacific Time)...from a distance of 68,000 kilometers (42,000 miles).
JAXA

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