Thursday, December 09, 2010
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency reports its Akatsuki probe reached Venus on schedule but failed to make orbit. A mechanical failure (possibly, though unlikely) due to a meteorite collision) made the probe miss the planet and keep going. JAXA project manager Masato Nakamura apologized for not meeting the nation's expectations (there's a custom we could import: leaders who are actually sorry when they fail). Engineers think they may be able to try again if the probe, sent on a two-year mission, is viable after another six years, when its trajectory will carry it by Venus again.