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Japan Loses Contact With Humanity’s Only Active Venus Probe ‘Akatsuki’

Akatsuki was launched on May 21, 2010.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed that it had lost contact with Akatsuki, the only Venus probe on the planet. The announcement was made on Twitter (formerly Twitter).

The space agency announced that the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) lost communication with Akatsuki in late April.

JAXA wrote:[From the Akatsuki team] The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) has been working to resume communications with the probe since communication with the spacecraft was lost after it was placed in low attitude stabilization control mode for an extended period following its operation in late April.

The agency continued, “We will let you know about future plans as soon as they are decided. We appreciate your warm support.”

Japan’s first successful planetary exploration mission, Akatsuki, was launched on May 21, 2010.

according to Official website of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Akatsuki is a Venus exploration probe (PLANET-C) whose mission is to “observe the toxic atmosphere and super-hot volcanic surface of Venus.”

The US-based space agency added that it will “study Venus’ weather patterns, identify lightning in the thick clouds and look for signs of active volcanic activity.”

Akatsuki, carrying six instruments, entered Martian orbit in 2015. It was launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center. The total launch budget was 25.2 billion yen ($205 million), according to AFP.

The spacecraft is designed to study the thick clouds that cover Venus in three dimensions.

The probe also aims to study the planet’s strong winds, estimated to be more than 360 kilometers per hour, which cause an atmospheric phenomenon known as super rotation.