Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) & National Space Development Agency

JAXA, Japanese Space Agency Operations The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was born through the merger of three institutions, namely the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). It was designated as a core performance agency to support the Japanese government’s overall aerospace development and utilization. JAXA, therefore, can conduct integrated operations from basic research and development, to utilization.

In 2013, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its founding, JAXA created the corporate slogan, “Explore to Realize,” which reflects its management philosophy of utilizing space and the sky to achieve a safe and affluent society.

JAXA became a National Research and Development Agency in April 2015, and took a new step forward to achieve optimal R&D achievements for Japan, according to the government’s purpose of establishing a national R&D agency.

Welcome to JAXA’s Kakuda Space Center

The Kakuda Space Center (KSPC) leads research and development in rocket engines, which are the hearts of the vehicles that carry satellites into outer space. 

Video Playlist: Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency Kaguya taking “Full Earth-Rise” in High Definition, Clicking Top Left Grid Reveals Video Menu

Venus Climate Orbiter Characteristics AKATSUKI (Planet C)
Infrared light enables more detailed investigation of Venus

Venus Climate Orbiter Characteristics AKATSUKI (Planet C)The probe vehicle of AKATSUKI will enter an elliptical orbit, 300 to 80,000 km away from Venus’s surface. This wide variation in distance will enable comprehensive observations of the planet’s meteorological phenomena and of its surface, as well as observations of the atmospheric particles escaping from Venus into space. It will also be possible to take close-up photos of Venus, and to observe the storm winds that blow on the Venusian surface, at speeds that reach 100 m a second – 60 times the speed at which Venus rotates.

This phenomenon remains the biggest mystery of Venus, as it cannot be explained meteorologically. AKATSUKI will employ infrared light to observe and elucidate the mysteries surrounding the atmosphere under the clouds and the conditions on the planet’s surface. In addition, it will confirm the presence of active volcanoes and thunder.

Major Characteristics

International Designation Code 2010-020D
Launch Date 6:58, May 21, 2010 (JST)
Launch Vehicle H-IIA Launch Vehicle No.17
Location Tanegashima Space Center
Shape Box shape with two wing-type solar array paddles
Weight Mass at liftoff: about 500 kg
Orbiter Venus elliptical orbit
Altitude PeriVenus: 300 km
ApoVenus: about 80,000 km
Orbital Inclination Approx. 172 degrees
Orbital Period Approx. 30 hours

 Venus Climate Orbiter “AKATSUKI” Inserted Into Orbit

Venus Climate Orbiter “AKATSUKI” Inserted Into Venus' OrbitDecember 2015, The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully inserted the Venus Climate Orbiter “AKATSUKI” into the orbit circling around Venus. As a result of measuring and calculating the AKATSUKI’s orbit after its thrust ejection, the orbiter is now flying on the elliptical orbit at the apoapsis altitude of about 440,000 km and periapsis altitude of about 400 km from Venus. The orbit period is 13 days and 14 hours. We also found that the orbiter is flying in the same direction as that of Venus’s rotation.

The AKATSUKI is in good health.

planet_c_list_001We will deploy the three scientific mission instruments namely the 2μm camera (IR2), the Lightning and Airglow Camera (LAC) and the Ultra-Stable oscillator (USO) and check their functions. JAXA will then perform initial observations with the above three instruments along with the three other instruments whose function has already been confirmed, the Ultraviolet Imager (UVI), the Longwave IR camera (LIR), and the 1μm camera (IR1) for about three months. At the same time, JAXA will also gradually adjust the orbit for shifting its elliptical orbit to the period of about nine days. The regular operation is scheduled to start in April, 2016.

Orbit calculation result (as of Dec. 9)
Periapsis altitude About 400 km
Apoasis altitude About 440,000 km
Inclination About 3 degrees against Venus’ revolution plane
Period About 13 days and 14 hours

Reference 1: Orbit pattern diagram

Orbit pattern diagram

Reference 2; Venus image taken by AKATSUKI
immediately after its attitude control ejection.

By 1μm camera (IR1) at about 1:50 p.m. on Dec. 7 (Japan Standard Time) at the Venus altitude of about 68,000 km

By Longwave IR camera (LIR) at around 2:19 p.m. on Dec. 7 (Japan Standard Time) at the Venus altitude of about 72,000 km

By Ultraviolet Imager (UVI), at about 2:19 p.m. on Dec. 7 (Japan Standard Time) at the Venus altitude of about 72,000 km