September 8, 2011
JAXA Successfully Tests Engine Of Akatsuki Venus Probe
Japan's space agency said that it had successfully test-fired the engine of its "Akatsuki" space probe.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said a remote test ignition conducted Wednesday lasted for 2 seconds as planned.
"The failure in December was highly likely due to engine damage," JAXA spokesman Eijiro Namura said in a statement.
"We have made the first step forward by igniting the engine for the first time since then," to assess its condition, he said.
The space probe has two paddle-shaped solar panels and launched in May 2010 on a $300 million mission to observe the toxic atmosphere and super-hot volcanic surface of Venus.
However, the box-shaped probe failed to enter the planet's gravitational pull and shot past it in December.
Another test ignition of the probe is planned for September 14.
JAXA said it plans to fire up the engine in early November in order to adjust the spacecraft's positioning ahead of the next available window for a Venus orbit attempt in 2015 or later.
Image Caption: Ultraviolet image of Venus' clouds as seen by the Pioneer Venus Orbiter (February 26, 1979). The immense C- or Y-shaped features which are visible only in these wavelengths are individually short lived, but reform often enough to be considered a permanent feature of Venus' clouds. The mechanism by which Venus' clouds absorb ultraviolet is not well understood. Credit: NASA
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