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Akatsuki, Japanese Probe, Reaches Venus and Sends Photos

Dec 08, 2015 07:46 PM EST
First Venus photo sent back by Akatsuki
Akatsuki, the Japanese space agency probe, has reached Venus's atmosphere and is sending back triumphant photos.
(Photo : JAXA)

The Japanese space agency's probe Akatsuki, which suffered a faulty valve in  the fuel pressure system in 2010 and bypassed Venus instead of reaching its atmosphere, has triumphantly reached what is sometimes called Earth's twin but is still very inhospitable .

The ship, from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), was maneuvered by scientists earlier this week and is beginning to send back new details about Venus and why it is both like and different from our planet, according to a release from JAXA. While landers from the former Soviet Union have previously landed on Venus, the information available about Venus is still very limited. Therefore, any data that Akatsuki sends back will be valuable. 

Akatsuki has with it six instruments for taking data: a 1-Micron camera that will gather images of the planet's deepest atmospheric levels; a 2-Micron camera that will photograph the middle and lower atmosphere; a Longwave Infrared Camera intended to capture the height at the cloud tops; Ultraviolet Imager, which also looks at the cloud tops; the Lightning and Airglow Camera will photograph glows in the air in the lower thermosphere and lightning in the clouds. The Ultrastable Oscillator will also provide high-precision tracking, as a NASA statement noted.

In June, scientists with the European Space Agency (ESA) concluded that Venus likely has hot lava flows and tectonic movement that occurs regularly in certain spots, basing this on findings from the eight-year orbit of the planet by the ESA ship Venus Express.

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-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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