The Akatsuki spacecraft of Japan was launched on May 21, 2010. The spacecraft planned to enter a Venusencircling near-equatorial orbit in December 7, 2010; however, the Venus orbit insertion maneuver has failed, and at present the spacecraft is orbiting the Sun. There is a possibility of conducting an orbit insertion maneuver again several years later. The main goal of the mission is to understand the Venusian atmospheric dynamics and cloud physics, with the explorations of the ground surface and the interplanetary dust also being the themes. The angular motion of the spacecraft is roughly synchronized with the zonal flow near the cloud base for roughly 20 hours centered at the apoapsis. Seen from this portion of the orbit, cloud features below the spacecraft continue to be observed over 20 hours, and thus the precise determination of atmospheric motions is possible. The onboard science instruments sense multiple height levels of the atmosphere to model the three-dimensional structure and dynamics. The lower clouds, the lower atmosphere and the surface are imaged by utilizing nearinfrared windows. The cloud top structure is mapped by using scattered ultraviolet radiation and thermal infrared radiation. Lightning discharge is searched for by high speed sampling of lightning flashes. Night airglow is observed at visible wavelengths. Radio occultation complements the imaging observations principally by determining the vertical temperature structure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Space and Planetary Science