Japan’s Spacecraft Now in Venus Orbit

February 9, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. probe / proʊb / (n.) – an unmanned vehicle used to explore outer space
Example: The government funded the creation of a new probe.

2. engine / ˈɛn dʒən / (n.) – a machine that makes a vehicle move
Example: The trip was delayed because the car’s engine broke down.

3. assess / əˈsɛs / (v.) – to test and measure
Example: The disaster agency will assess the situation in areas hit by the typhoon.

4. to date / tu deɪt / (idiom) – up to the present date
Example: To date, only five of the invited guests have not responded.

5. exploration / ˌɛk spləˈreɪ ʃən / (n.) – the act of conducting an investigation and study in a place
Example: The government funded an exploration in the Pacific Ocean.


Read the text below.
Japan’s probe has successfully arrived in the planet Venus.

A Japanese spacecraft named Akatsuki – which means dawn in Japanese – finally entered Venus’s orbit after circling the sun for five years. The spacecraft’s arrival at the second planet from the sun marks Japan’s second attempt to reach the planet after its first failed five years ago.

Akatsuki, also known as the Venus Climate Orbiter, was launched on May 20, 2010 by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Its goal is to study Venus’s atmosphere. However, the first attempt was unsuccessful because of a failure in its main engine. On December 2015, JAXA was able to make Akatsuki reach Venus’s orbit.

According to JAXA, Akatsuki is orbiting Venus in the same direction as the planet’s rotation. This keeps the spacecraft in good condition but the aerospace organization still has to fix its position to achieve the desired orbit. JAXA announced that Akatsuki will start its regular operations in April 2016. The organization also confirmed that three of the spacecraft’s six instruments are working fine. The other three will still be assessed in the next few months.

Akatsuki successfully arrived in Venus a week after another Japanese spacecraft named Hayabusa 2 passed by Earth in its preparation for a probe at a faraway asteroid.

To date, Akatsuki is Japan’s second interplanetary space mission probe. The first one was the Nozomi Mars probe in 2003, which failed to fulfill its mission. Japan also conducted a successful exploration to the moon through its Kaguya orbiter in 2007.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How did you feel about Akatsuki’s success in reaching Venus’s orbit?
·         What can be the benefit of knowing more about Venus’s atmosphere?

Discussion B

·         Do you think your country should fund space explorations such as this? Why or why not?
·         What would you like to know about space if you had the chance to do a space exploration?

February 9, 2016