Study weather patterns on Venus, confirm the presence of lightning in thick clouds and search for signs of active volcanism.
Recovered from missed orbit insertion in 2010 and entered Venus orbit in 2015. Akatsuki is Japan's first successful mission to explore another planet.
May 21, 2010: Launch
Dec. 6, 2010: Venus Orbit Insertion - 1st Attempt
Dec. 7, 2015: Successful Venus Orbit Insertion
The Venus Climate Orbiter mission (PLANET-C), or "AKATSUKI", is studying the atmospheric circulation of Venus. Meteorological information will be obtained by globally mapping clouds and minor constituents successively with four cameras at ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths, detecting lightning with a high-speed imager, and observing the vertical structure of the atmosphere with radio science techniques.
The equatorial elongated orbit with westward revolution matches the Venusian atmosphere, which rotates westward. The systematic, continuous imaging observations will provide us with an unprecedented large dataset of the Venusian atmospheric dynamics. Additional targets of the mission are the exploration of the ground surface and the observation of zodiacal light. The mission complements the European Space Agency's (ESA) Venus Express, which orbited Venus until 2014.
Launch Vehicle: H-2A
Spacecraft Mass: 320 kilograms
Akatuski means dawn in Japanese.