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Planetary Society Executive Director Lou Friedman was at JAXA's Japanese Space Exploration Center to observe the deployment of IKAROS' solar sails.
Three of Akatsuki's six science instruments have now checked in as operating normally, producing lovely photos of the receding homeworld.
Today JAXA posted a very brief mission status update on the IKAROS spacecraft, launched yesterday along with Akatsuki. Brief is good; all's well.
It was a picture-perfect launch for three Venus-bound spacecraft this morning: the Akatsuki Venus orbiter, the IKAROS solar sail, and a university-built minisat named UNITEC-1.
According to the Akatsuki Twitter feed, the next try for launch of Akatsuki and IKAROS will be Thursday, May 20, at 21:58:22 UTC.
The countdown for the planned launch of Akatsuki and IKAROS got to about four minutes before they decided to cancel the attempt due to weather, and I can't blame them.
IKAROS, Japan's solar sail, is nearly ready for launch, piggybacked behind the Venus orbiter Akatsuki.
I've been so focused on the dramatic return of
The Akatsuki spacecraft (also known as PLANET-C or Venus Climate Orbiter) arrived this evening, Japanese time, at the Tanegashima Space Center.
I wrote a few weeks ago about a new Send Your Name to Venus campaign conducted by the Akatsuki mission. Now The Planetary Society has arranged with JAXA to collect names and messages on our website.
The Japanese space agency's science missions have an abundance of names. They start out with a programmatic name, like MUSES-A, PLANET-A, etc. -- which might be like calling NEAR
Today, I'm kicking the week off with a look at the unusually intense confluence of far flung planetary exploration that's just around the corner, starting the middle of next year.
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