Japan launches space probe to Venus

May 21st, 2010 - 9:29 am ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, May 21 (IANS) Japan launched a climate orbiter “Akatsuki” on a two-year mission to Venus, from the country’s Tanegashima island Friday.
The H-2A rocket, which will study the climate and surface of Venus, lifted off at 6.58 a.m. local time (2158 GMT Thursday) from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Kagoshima Prefecture, Xinhua reported citing a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency statement.

The rocket carrying the probe was originally scheduled to blast off Tuesday but had to be postponed due to bad weather.

“Akatsuki”, which means “Dawn” in Japanese, was successfully delivered into orbit 27 minutes after lift-off and is expected to reach Venus’ orbit in December 2010.

It carries five instruments to study Venus’ clouds and the terrain of the planet while orbiting Venus from distances of 300 km to 80,000 km and the “super-rotation” of the planet’s atmosphere, where, according to scientists, winds can drive storms and clouds around the planet at speeds of more than 220 km per hour.

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