Akatsuki enters orbit at Venus today!
Posted By Emily Lakdawalla
2010/12/06 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|
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."
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