Japanese space probe misses Venus

December 8th, 2010 - 5:38 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 8 (ANI): A 190 million-pound Japanese mission to orbit Venus has missed the planet completely but could be more successful when it next passes by in six years’ time, scientists said.

The “Akatsuki”, or “Dawn”, was launched in May with the brief of observing Venus’s toxic atmosphere and volcanic surface.

But instead of entering the planet’s gravitational pull the golden box-shaped probe shot past it, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

“It will come close to Venus again in roughly six years, giving us another opportunity,” the Telegraph quoted JAXA spokesman Hitoshi Soeno as saying.

Masato Nakamura, the chief developer of Akatsuki, said a second attempt was “highly doable”, according to a foreign news agency.

The Akatsuki is fitted with two paddle-shaped solar panels and five cameras to let it peer through the planet’s thick layer of sulphuric acid clouds, and was also due to search for signs of lightning and active volcanoes.

JAXA said on Tuesday morning that the probe had slowed down in an attempt to enter the planet’s gravitational field but also admitted communication problems, and the following day they announced the mission had failed.

The cause of the failure has not been confirmed but one suggestion was that the probe did not slow down enough near Venus to be pulled in by the planet’s gravity, Soeno said.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshito Sengoku said the failure was “very regrettable” but that the government would “like to continue watching Akatsuki’s situation.” (ANI)

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