Upcoming venus exploration by akatsuki venus climate orbiter
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Upcoming Venus exploration by AKATSUKI/Venus Climate Orbiter. M. Nakamura, T. Imamura, T. Satoh, and VCO Team Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Flight model before launch. Vibration test. Thermal vacuum test. Akatsuki launch: May 21, 2010. First light. UVI 365nm. LIR 10μm. IR1 0.9μm.

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Upcoming Venus exploration by AKATSUKI/Venus Climate Orbiter

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Upcoming Venus exploration by AKATSUKI/Venus Climate Orbiter

M. Nakamura, T. Imamura, T. Satoh, and VCO Team

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Flight model before launch

Vibration test

Thermal vacuum test

Akatsuki launch: May 21, 2010

First light

UVI 365nm

LIR 10μm

IR1 0.9μm

Venus Climate Orbiter/Akatsuki(PLANET-C project)

  • First Japanese Venus mission

  • Science target :

    • Mechanism of super-rotation

    • Structure of meridional circulation

    • Meso-scale processes

    • Formation of H2SO4 clouds

    • Lightning

    • Active volcanism, inhomogeneity of surface material

    • Zodiacal light (during cruise)

  • Launch : May 21, 2010  Arrival: December 7, 2010

  • Mission life :More than 2 Earth years

Comparative planetary meteorology

Cloud processes

  • Dynamics of cloud formation, role of meridional circulation in transporting cloud-related species

  • Origin of UV markings

  • Whether lightening occurs or not

Schubert (1983)

Observation from an orbiter

Lightning and airglow camera

Longwave IR camera (cloud temperature)

  • 4 cameras sounding different altitudes, a high-speed lightning detector, and an ultra-stable oscillator for radio science

  • Constructing 3-D model of atmospheric dynamics

Ultraviolet imager (cloud top)

1-mm camera (surface)

2-mm camera (lower atmosphere)

Radio science (vertical structure)






Onboard instruments

Resolution: 10-20 km

Observations to be conducted during one orbital revolution

Successive Global images

of atmosphere and ground

surface (~24 hours)

Limb images

(~0.5 hour)

Orbital period: 30 hours

Close-up images/


(~3 hours x 2)

Temperature / H2SO4

vapor / Ionosphere

by radio occultation

Wavelengths for cloud-tracking

365nm, cloud top (65km), dayside

10mm, cloud top (65km), dayside & nightside

2.02mm, cloud top(65m), dayside

365 nm image taken by PVO/OCPP

8.6 um image taken by Subaru telescope, high-pass filtered

Cloud altimetry by VenusExpress/VIRTIS

0.9mm, lower cloud (50km), dayside

2.3mm, lower cloud (50km), nightside

* Cloud top and bottom will be covered on both dayside and nightside.

0.98 um image taken by Galileo/SSI

2.3 um image taken by Galileo/NIMS

Accuracy of wind velocity measurement

  • Cloud position accuracy is assumed to be 1 pixel.

  • Mean meridional circulation is obtained by averaging large number of vectors and will be determined with much higher accuracy than above estimates.

Latitude and local solar time of radio occultation

  • 360-deg local time coverage in the tropics Thermal tides including sub-cloud region

  • Intensive observation in the sub-solar region  Origin of ‘cells’

  • Locations probed by radio occultation will be imaged by cameras a short time before or after the occultation.

3-D sounding

Data processing pipeline

Level 0 : Uncompressed images

  • Level 2 and Level 3 data will be released to the public with PDS-like label files.

Level 1 : Calibrated images with FITS header

Level 2 : Calibrated images with FITS header, including geometry information

Level 3 : Wind vectors and other higher-level products on longitude-latitude grids in NetCDF format

Complementary missions

Coordinated observations are being planned.


  • VCO/Akatsuki will address the unique dynamical state of the Venus atmosphere with systematic sampling of meteorological variables from equatorial orbit.

  • Three-dimensional structure of the atmosphere and its temporal variation will be observed by using 4 cameras, a high-speed lightning detector and radio occultation.

  • Data processing pipeline is under development. Wind vectors as well as image data and radio occultation data will be released to the public.

See you soon at Venus !

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