Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Japan's Venus probe fails to enter orbit

TOKYO — Japanese scientists said a probe sent on a two-year mission to Venus has failed to enter orbit and may have flown passed the planet.

The probe, called Akatsuki, which means dawn, appears to have not fired its engines enough to inject it into the proper orbit after it passed near Venus. Japan's space agency, called JAXA, said it still had communication with the probe.

Akatsuki, launched May 20, was designed to monitor volcanic activity on Venus and provide data on its thick cloud cover and climate, including whether the planet has lightning. The probe is equipped with infrared cameras and other instruments to carry out its mission. — AP

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