Fri, May 21, 2010
Sci-Tech > Science

Japan launches space probe to explore Venus

2010-05-21 01:51:58 GMT2010-05-21 09:51:58 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

The H-2A rocket carrying Venus climate orbiter Akatsuki lifts off at Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture on May 21, 2010. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched Venus climate orbiter Akatsuki early Friday. Akatsuki, which means "Dawn" in Japanese, will travel to Venus on a 2-year mission to study its climate and surface. (Xinhua Photo)

TOKYO, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched Venus climate orbiter Akatsuki early Friday, said reports from Tanegashima, an island south of Japan's main island Kyushu.

The H-2A rocket lifted off at 6:58 a.m. (2158 GMT Thursday) at Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, carrying the probe originally scheduled to blast off on Tuesday but postponed due to bad weather.

It was successfully delivered into orbit 27 minutes later and is expected to reach Venus' orbit in December.

Akatsuki, which means "Dawn" in Japanese, will travel to Venus on a 2-year mission to study its climate and surface.

The probe carries five significant pieces of instrumentation to study Venus' clouds, the terrain of the planet whilst orbiting Venus from distances of 300 km to 80,000 km and the "super- rotation" of the planet's atmosphere, where, according to scientists, winds can drive storms and clouds around that planet at speeds of more than 220 kph, some 60 times faster than the planet itself rotates.

It also carries a payload including several smaller satellite experiments, including a solar sail to be powered by the sun's radiation.

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