Akatsuki enters orbit at Venus today!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
06-12-2010 12:30 CST
In just a few hours, Venus will have a second orbiter. Japan's Akatsuki is due to start firing its orbit insertion engines on December 7 at 08:49 Japan time (which is today, December 6, 23:49 UTC / 15:49 PST).
There has already been a successful trajectory correction maneuver today, lining the spacecraft up for orbit insertion. (EDIT: This was not correct; I misunderstood the Google translation. The last rocket firing was on December 1.) A timeline of today's plans is below. I edited it from a Google translation of this Japanese-language website, so any errors are mine.
|Date/time (UTC)||Time w.r.t. closest approach||Event|
|Dec 6 23:49:00||- 11m||Orbit insertion burn begins|
|23:50:43||- 9m||Ground station communication blackout expected|
|Dec 7 00:01:00||+1m||End orbit insertion burn|
|00:12:03||+12m||Communication should resume|
|00:36:37||+37m||Enter into Venus' shadow|
|01:40:44||+1h 41m||Exit from Venus' shadow|
|01:59:00||+2h||Orient attitude to Earth for orbit determination|
|03:09:00||+3h||Switch between medium-and high-gain antennas|
|12:00:00||+12h||Orbit determination should be complete; decide if further course correction necessary|
Via Twitter I've heard that there will be a live webcast (in Japanese of course) beginning at 23:00 UTC / 15:00 PST at this website.
Since the orbit insertion happens during after-school time for me, I am, sadly, not going to be able to follow it live, though I'll be monitoring Twitter when I can. I recommend following cosmos4u; you may also want to bookmark the Google translation of Akatsuki's own Twitter feed and the Google translation of the mission website. For any machine-translated websites, wherever you see the word "somehow," you should mentally replace it with "Akatsuki."