Akatsuki update: WELCOME TO VENUS!!!

Confirmation came in today: Akatsuki, the plucky little probe that wouldn’t give up, is definitely orbiting the second planet from the Sun!  It’s in a much higher orbit than it was originally designed for, but due to better-than-expected performance from the overtaxed RCS engines, it’s a better orbit than they had hoped for after the salvage maneuver.  They will be able to nudge it down into a lower orbit over time, and hopefully even get much of the originally planned science out of the mission.  Here’s the first image it has sent back from Venus orbit:

1stvenus-akatsuki

Also, while we’re on the subject of successful things in space, Cygnus “SS Deke Slayton II” arrived at the ISS today and has been berthed at the nadir port of the Unity node.  Deke Slayton II will remain at the ISS through January.

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