Japanese Akatsuki trying to make Second Attempt to enter Venus Orbit

Japanese Akatsuki trying to make Second Attempt to enter Venus Orbit

Do you love reading science stories related to universe and solar system? If yes, then you will definitely gain some interest while reading the below news. In 2010, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched The Venus Climate Orbiter ‘Akatsuki’ with the intention to gain insight into planet’s weather and surface conditions. But, the spacecraft failed to enter into the orbit of Venus due to trouble in its engine. Since then, the spacecraft remained in a heliocentric orbit, some 134 million kilometers from Venus, conducting scientific studies on solar winds. JAXA scientists have been working hard with Akatsuki to keep the spacecraft alive and could give another try to enter Venus’s orbit.

Now, scientists from JAXA are planning to make one more attempt to slip the probe into Venus’ orbit before its fuel runs out. Team of scientists examined all the possibilities that could have been the cause of the failure. They found that the probe’s main engine burned out as it attempted to decelerate on approach to the planet. It failed because of the malfunctioning valve in the spacecraft’s fuel pressure system caused by salt deposits jamming the valve between the helium pressurization tank and the fuel tank. It further caused increase in temperatures damaging engine’s combustion chamber throat and nozzle.

Earlier, it was planned to set Akatsuki back in orbit of Venus by the end of 2016. But, because of slow down of the spacecraft’s speed more than what was expected JAXA determined that if they slowly decelerated Akatsuki even more, Venus would ‘catch up with it’ even sooner. The spacecraft will land in the Venus’s orbit to gain vital information about meteorological phenomenon and surface conditions of the planet. Landing of the spacecraft on the Venus’s orbit is the first attempt of Japan to deploy the spacecraft around a planet other than Earth.

If successful, the spacecraft will land around Venus at a distance of roughly 300,000 to 400,000 km from the surface. The original mission called for the probe to establish an elliptical orbit that would place it 300 to 80,000 km away from Venus’ surface.