Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced Wednesday that its Venus Climate Orbiter ‘Akatsuki’ has successfully entered into orbit around the second planet from the sun.
The space agency confirmed that the probe has been interned into the planet’s orbit after an initial attempt failed five years ago. With the success, Akatsuki has become the first Japanese spacecraft to enter into another planet’s orbit, JAXA added.
Masato Nakamura, project managet at JAXA, said during a press conference that the spacecraft has been functioning properly. “We'll conduct an initial observation for three months... We'll then shift to full observation in April”, he added.
The Japanese space agency had launched Akatsuki in 2010 with an aim to observe Venus’ toxic atmosphere and its volcanic surface. But the 25.2 billion yen mission failed when the probe didn’t enter the gravitational pull of Venus. JAXA didn’t lose hope and decide to make the second attempt.
Earlier, JAXA’s another space probe, Hayabusa 2, passed by earth to harness the gravitational pull to push it toward a far away asteroid. The space agency launched Hayabusa 2 last year on a six-year mission to capture and bring back some mineral samples from the asteroid, Ryugu.
Scientists expect that Hayabusa 2 may reach Ryugu in mid-2018. If everything goes as per JAXA’s plans, the probe will bring back rock samples in 2020. According to scientists, samples from space could help reveal secrets of solar system’s birth. It may also tell how life started on earth.