Japan’s Venus Orbiter and Solar Sail Missions Launch Successfully

Japan’s first robotic mission to Venus and an experimental solar sail launched successfully from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. The Venus Climate Orbiter, or Akatsuki, the IKAROS solar sail and several smaller payloads launched aboard an H-IIA rocket at 6:58 local time May 21 (21:58 UTC May 20). The video shows a very smooth-looking launch, and 27 minutes later, JAXA confirmed the successful separation of Akatsuki. Then, about 15 minutes after that, the solar sail canister separated.

“We would like to express our profound appreciation for the cooperation and support of all related personnel and organizations that helped contribute to the successful launch of the H-IIA F17,” JAXA said in a press release.

Akatsuki should arrive at Venus in December. The IKAROS solar sail will be checked out before being deployed in a few weeks.

Source: JAXA

7 Replies to “Japan’s Venus Orbiter and Solar Sail Missions Launch Successfully”

  1. Those tiny boosters are just adorable.

    I didn’t realise “Akatsuki” only had three syllables.

  2. Sili
    I was under the impression it had 4 syllables:

    How have you heard it prounounced?

  3. Venus… I don’t know much about the planet. But for a perhaps interesting theory of why the atmosphere is super-rotating (rotating much faster than the planet), see here.

    If (and I don’t know this) earlier explanations have been looking at the atmosphere and its temperature differentials to provide the energy, this paper turns the problem inside out. They claim to show that it is feasible that a superrotation ionospheric ionic wind is fueled by energy from the solar wind in the form of momenta. The lower atmosphere/planet coupling sets up a right order energy dissipation to explain how the momenta coupling is inwards. They even test this prediction successfully with a model system.

    While it isn’t a total model, since it doesn’t predict the mechanics of the coupling, it reminds me how ionospheric research has, to this non-astronomer layman, become an important part of explaining atmospheric environment. It’s ionospheric physics that putatively protect Earth from solar wind erosion, I believe. It’s ionospheric physics that make the interesting chemistry on Titan happen. And now this.

    In any case, as this physics needs more data on Venus, these launches are heartening!

Comments are closed.