By Maiya Gessling
The North American Post
It’s taken a five year detour, but on Wednesday the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) “Akatsuki” space probe sucessfully entered into orbit around Venus, after its first attempt to do so failed in 2010.
JAXA reports that the Akatsuki, meaning “dawn,” is in good shape, and it has already sent back preliminary images of Venus. Over the next while, JAXA will gradually adjust the probe’s orbit from about 13 days to nine days, bringing it closer to the planet. This will allow for clearer photos and other more accurate measurements, as the Akatsuki investigates Venus’ atmosphere and volcanic surface.
In 2010, the $205 million gold, box-shaped probe missed Venus’ gravitational pull and shot past it towards the sun. Now, it is scheduled to settle into orbit and begin regular operations in April 2016.
Just a week ago, another Japanese probe, the Hayabusa 2, passed by Earth to use it’s gravitational pull as a sort of slingshot to propel it towards an asteroid. It was launched a year ago on a six-year mission to bring back mineral samples from “Ryugu,” the name of a mythical Japanese castle that was given to the tiny asteroid.