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Akatsuki enters orbit at Venus today!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

06-12-2010 12:30 CST

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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 approachEvent
Dec 6 23:49:00- 11mOrbit insertion burn begins
23:50:43- 9mGround station communication blackout expected
Dec 7 00:01:00+1mEnd orbit insertion burn
00:12:03+12mCommunication should resume
00:36:37+37mEnter into Venus' shadow
01:40:44+1h 41mExit from Venus' shadow
01:59:00+2hOrient attitude to Earth for orbit determination
03:09:00+3hSwitch between medium-and high-gain antennas
12:00:00+12hOrbit 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."

Akatsuki at Venus
Akatsuki at Venus
Japan's Akatsuki mission will explore Venus's atmosphere from orbit beginning in 2010. Akatsuki is also known as PLANET-C and Venus Climate Orbiter. Credit: JAXA

 
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