Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Akatsuki update: safe mode, still talking to Earth, but slowly

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

07-12-2010 11:01 CST

Topics: mission status, Akatsuki (Planet-C)

A press release (PDF) was posted in Japanese on the Akatsuki website this morning with some official information on the mission status. Here is a translation of the text, with help from Kay Previsich and from sei_n, natsu_shigure, and hee913758 on Twitter.

"On December 7, 2010 at 10:28 (JST) [01:28 UTC] we managed to receive a radio signal from Akatsuki. However, further analysis of the radio transmission has confirmed that the orbiter is in safe mode. In safe mode, the spacecraft orients itself to the Sun and is under spin stabilization. The operation to receive and confirm the condition of the spacecraft and its trajectory is in progress. The team will continue to determine the spacecraft's position and status as soon as possible."

Venus Climate Orbiter Akatsuki (PLANET-C)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Venus Climate Orbiter Akatsuki (PLANET-C)

Another helpful person on Twitter has told me that the orbit insertion burn was supposed to last 720 seconds. Provided that the burn lasted at least 560 seconds, Akatsuki will be in Venus orbit; if it did not last long enough, it won't be captured. Also, the spin rate is 0.1 rpm; apparently they only get communications during one little 40-second window per 10-minute rotation when the antenna is pointing in the right direction, which would make it difficult to establish the condition of the spacecraft other than "it's awake and talking." But that last piece is critical and gives the necessary hope for recovery. sei_n said it will take several hours to get the housekeeping data off of the spacecraft under these conditions.

Here are a couple of English-language news stories on the Web, but, except for this excellent article from Kelly Beatty at Sky & Telescope they contain no further information than what I have written here. BBC; AFP; Mainichi Daily News.

See other posts from December 2010


Or read more blog entries about: mission status, Akatsuki (Planet-C)


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Planetary Defense

An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.


Featured Images

LightSail 2 and Prox-1
Bill Nye at LightSail 2 pre-ship review
LightSail 2 pre-ship review team photo
Swirling maelstrom
More Images

Featured Video

Class 9: Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!