Japan's Akatsuki Spacecraft Sends First Image From Venus

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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has issued this amazing image of Venus, taken by the Akatsuki spacecraft’s Ultraviolet Imager (UVI) from 72,000 almost kilometres above the planet's surface. Akatsuki was maneuvered into orbit of Venus earlier this week, with JAXA declaring the spacecraft's "good health". It was a good news for the Japanese mission which was unsuccessful in an effort to put Akatsuki in Venus’s orbit back in December 2010 when a core engine failed and the spacecraft zipped past the planet. Akatsuki has spent  nearly five years circling the sun in order to catch up with Venus and try again.
Image Credit: JAXA

JAXA said in a statement “As a result of measuring and calculating the Akatsuki’s orbit after its thrust ejection, the orbiter is now flying on the elliptical orbit at the apoapsis altitude of about 400 kilometres and periapsis altitude of about 440,000 kilometres from Venus. The orbit period is 13 days and 14 hours. We also found that the orbiter is flying in the same direction as that of Venus’s rotation." Akatsuki's mission is to examine Venus's atmosphere – a dense, toxic perpetual cloud – and to search for volcanic and lightning activity. The planet's surface at 462 °C is hot enough to melt lead.

You can read more about Akatsuki's mission here.
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