Science Seminars

Akatsuki Rises from the Dead to Explore the Depths of Hell

Speaker: Kevin McGouldrick (LASP)
Date: Thursday, Sep 07, 2017
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: SPSC W120

Seminar Abstract:

In a first for robotic planetary exploration, the Akatsuki spacecraft successfully achieved Venus Orbit Insertion on its second attempt on 7 December 2015, using only its attitude control thrusters. The Akatsuki spacecraft was designed and built by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and Institute for Space and Astrophysical Science to answer key questions about the Venusian atmosphere. The primary goal of the mission is to establish a four dimensional picture of the Venusian atmosphere (latitude, longitude, altitude, time) in order to elucidate the drivers of the atmospheric super-rotation. It will accomplish this goal by means of repeated observation of the planet at multiple wavelengths from the near ultraviolet to the thermal (10 micron) infrared, as well as via radio occultations and a search for visible wavelength emissions due to lightning and airglow. In this talk, I will present some of the early results from the Akatsuki mission, as well as provide my own personal view of what the success of this mission means for the future of planetary astronomy.