Venus Probe Misses Orbiting Planet From JAXA

By: Michael Stevens
Staff Writer
Published: Dec 9, 2021

Venus Probe Misses

Venus probe misses orbiting planet from JAXA. The probe, named Akatsuki, was on its way to Venus but misses the planet. JAXA officials said it was seized by the sun's gravitational pull.

The Akatsuki probe isn't lost and JAXA officials are still in contact with it. They may to insert it into orbit around Venus when it passes near the planet again in six years. An investigation is being launched into the cause of the failure.

Initial assessments suggest that the mission handlers didn't fire Akatsuki's engines long enough to place it in the proper orbiting position. Once it overshot the planet, the sun's gravity got a hold on the probe, pulling it into a sweeping orbit around the star. The failure is a complete letdown for Japan, which gets by on smaller budgets than the U.S. or the E.U.

JAXA has never completed an interplanetary mission, and six years is a long time to wait for a second shot. The $300 million Akatsuki probe was supposed to maintain an elliptical orbit around Venus ranging from just 190 miles above the surface to as far out as 50,000 miles. The mission was to study the planet's climate.