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Forum:Satellites - Robotic Probes
Topic:JAXA's Akatsuki Venus Climate Orbiter
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Robert PearlmanJAXA release
Orbit Control Maneuver Result of the Venus Climate Orbiter 'Akatsuki'

The Venus Climate Orbiter "Akatsuki," which was launched on May 21, 2010 (Japan Standard Time), turned on the orbital maneuvering engine (OME) to jet 500 Newton (N) of thruster on June 28 (JST) at a distance of 14.6 million km from the earth or 1.06 astronomical units (AU) from the sun.

As a result, we have successfully performed on-orbit verification of the ceramic thruster, made of silicon nitride (Si3N4) for the first time in the world. The thruster was newly developed in Japan.

This thruster is a liquid rocket engine using hydrazine and nitrogen peroxide, and it is mainly used for retrofiring when the orbiter is injected into the Venus orbit.

The thrust emitted this time is not only for adjusting the access to Venus, but is also an imperative operation to evaluate the thrust characteristics of the engine for Venus orbit insertion. As a result of our detailed orbit tracking by the JAXA Uchinoura Space Center, JAXA Usuda Deep Space Center, and NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) stations, we have confirmed that about 12 meters per second of velocity correction was performed by 13-second firing of the OME, and that met the range of the scheduled orbit control.

The next orbit control (fine adjustment) is scheduled in early November, and Akatsuki will go to the nearest point of Venus and be injected into the Venus orbit on December 7 (JST).

Currently, the explorer and its onboard devices are working properly, and the Ultra-Stable Oscillator (USO) was also found to be functioning well to achieve the frequency stability as expected in addition to the Ultraviolet Imager (UVI,) 1µm Camera (IR1) and Longwave IR Camera (LIR,) whose initial functional verifications were already completed on the launch day evening.

Robert PearlmanJAXA release
Venus Climate Orbiter 'Akatsuki' Venus Observation Orbit Injection (VOI-1) Result

The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (ISAS/JAXA) performed Venus orbit insertion maneuver (VOI-1) for the Venus Climate Orbiter "Akatsuki" at 8:49 a.m. on December 7 (Japan Standard Time) but unfortunately, we have found that the orbiter was not injected into the planned orbit as a result of orbit estimation.

The "Akatsuki" was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center on May 21, 2010 (JST).

JAXA has set up an investigation team led by ISAS Director within JAXA to study the cause of the failure. We will update you with the countermeasures and investigation results.

Robert PearlmanJAXA Dec. 8 update
Akatsuki Venus orbit injection plan to be reviewed

JAXA found that we have failed to inject the Venus Climate Orbiter "Akatsuki" into the planned Venus orbit after conducting the Venus orbit insertion maneuver (VOI-1) on December 7.

While we set up a new investigation team to study the cause and countermeasures, we will also review the Venus orbit injection plan again to take the next opportunity in six years when the Akatsuki flies closest to Venus.

Robert PearlmanJAXA release
Akatsuki: Second attempt to enter Venus orbit

The Venus Climate Orbiter Akatsuki will try to enter the orbit of Venus on Dec. 7 (Monday) after five years of operation. We are welcoming support messages.

After Akatsuki's failure to enter Venus' orbit on Dec. 7, 2010, JAXA investigated the cause and considered a second attempt schedule while operating the satellite for a long period. Now, on Dec. 7, 2015, coincidentally the same day on the calendar as the previous attempt, we will perform the injection for the second time.

The Akatsuki is in a good condition and it will take a few days of confirmation to know the result. Your support for the Akatsuki and its project team members is very much appreciated.

Robert PearlmanJAXA release
Akatsuki attitude control engine thrust operation performed as scheduled

JAXA performed the attitude control engine thrust operation of the Venus Climate Orbiter "Akatsuki" for its Venus orbit insertion from 8:51 a.m. on December 7 (Japan Standard Time).

As a result of analyzing data transmitted from the orbiter, we confirmed that the thrust emission of the attitude control engine was conducted for about 20 minutes as scheduled!

The orbiter is now in good health. We are currently measuring and calculating its orbit after the operation. It will take a few days to estimate the orbit, thus we will announce the operation result once it is determined.

Robert PearlmanJAXA release
Venus Climate Orbiter "Akatsuki" Inserted Into Venus' Orbit

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully inserted the Venus Climate Orbiter "Akatsuki" into the orbit circling around Venus.

As a result of measuring and calculating the Akatsuki's orbit after its thrust ejection, the orbiter is now flying on the elliptical orbit at the apoapsis altitude of about 400 km and periapsis altitude of about 440,000 km from Venus. The orbit period is 13 days and 14 hours. We also found that the orbiter is flying in the same direction as that of Venus's rotation.

The Akatsuki is in good health.

We will deploy the three scientific mission instruments namely the 2μm camera (IR2), the Lightning and Airglow Camera (LAC) and the Ultra-Stable oscillator (USO) and check their functions. JAXA will then perform initial observations with the above three instruments along with the three other instruments whose function has already been confirmed, the Ultraviolet Imager (UVI), the Longwave IR camera (LIR), and the 1μm camera (IR1) for about three months. At the same time, JAXA will also gradually adjust the orbit for shifting its elliptical orbit to the period of about nine days. The regular operation is scheduled to start in April, 2016.

Robert PearlmanJAXA release
Akatsuki successfully inserted into Venus' orbit

As a result of measuring and calculating the Akatsuki's orbit after its thrust ejection on Dec. 7, JAXA found that the Akatsuki was inserted into the Venus orbit.

We have already received images from three instruments whose function has already been confirmed, namely the Ultraviolet Imager (UVI), the Longwave IR camera (LIR), and the 1μm camera (IR1).

We will check the function of the three other scientific mission instruments and perform initial observation for about three months while gradually adjusting the orbit for shifting its elliptical orbit to the period of about nine days. The regular operation is scheduled to start in April, 2016.

Above: Venus image taken by AKATSUKI immediately after its attitude control ejection. By 1μm camera (IR1) at around 1:50 p.m. on Dec. 7 (Japan Standard Time) at the Venus altitude of about 68,000 km.

Above: By Longwave IR camera (LIR) at around 2:19 p.m. on Dec. 7 (Japan Standard Time) at the Venus altitude of about 72,000 km.

Above: By Ultraviolet Imager (UVI), at around 2:19 p.m. on Dec. 7 (Japan Standard Time) at the Venus altitude of about 72,000 km.

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