Japan Launches Venus Probe

NISHINOOMOTE, Japan, May 21 (UPI) — A probe launched Friday from Japan is expected to reach the orbit of Venus by December and observe the planet’s climate for two years.

The Akatsuki planetary probe was delivered into orbit 27 minutes after its launch aboard an H-2A rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Using instruments that measure near-infrared rays and ultraviolet rays, Akatsuki is to analyze the planet’s sulfuric acid clouds, their movements and how storm winds are generated.

The probe is to circle Venus in an oval orbit and come within 186 miles of the planet’s surface, Kyodo News reported Friday.

Akatsuki is Japan’s first planetary mission since the failed Mars probe Nozomi, which launched in 1998 but never lodged in the planet’s orbit.

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