In DepthSpace Science

Japanese probe primed for second run at Venus

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Science  04 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6265, pp. 1142
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6265.1142

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Believers in second chances will be rooting next week for a space probe as it tries again to orbit Venus. Japan's Akatsuki spacecraft, designed to study the planet's curious atmosphere, shot past its target in December 2010 when its main engine malfunctioned. After whipping around the sun 10 times since then, the star-crossed probe will get its shot at redemption on 7 December, when mission control plans to use four small attitude-control thrusters to slow it on its latest approach to Venus. Akatsuki's 2-year mission aims to peel away some of the mystery of Venus's dense, cloudy atmosphere, which sweeps over the planet at speeds exceeding 300 kilometers per hour, or 60 times faster than Venus itself rotates.

  • * in Sagamihara, Japan