Japanese spacecraft misses target, fails to orbit Venus

You know what they say, if you spend $300 million to shoot a research vessel to Venus and completely miss the planet, try try again. Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft has missed its opportunity to enter orbit around Venus and won’t be able to try again for six years, says the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

akatsuki_venus-failed-to-orbit

The 1,000 Lb. probe attempted to enter orbit Monday by firing its main engine, but after struggling, it failed to latch onto the planet. Akatsuki was supposed to fire its engines at 6:49 p.m. EST Monday for about 12 minutes in an attempt to slow the probe down enough to be pulled into orbit by Venus’s gravity, but shortly after the spacecraft’s thrusters ignited it passed behind Venus, blocking communication for nearly 90 minutes, far longer than the 22 minutes of outage scientists expected. When communication was regained, they discovered it had not entered orbit.

The spacecraft has been rocketing toward Venus since its launch from the Tenegashima Space Center on May 20. The orbiting craft’s two year mission was to collect data on the planet’s atmosphere and runaway greenhouse effect. It also has sensors that can detect active volcanoes and hunt for lightning storms. Venus’s atmosphere is made up of carbon dioxide, clouds of sulfuric acid, and 225 mph winds. Because of the greenhouse effect of the CO2, the planet’s surface reaches temperatures of almost 900 degrees Fahrenheit. These are a few of the odd things about Venus Japanese scientists hoped to study.

“Although Venus is believed to have formed under similar conditions to Earth, it is a completely different world from our planet, with extremely high temperatures due to the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide and a super-rotating atmosphere blanketed by thick clouds of sulfuric acid,” said Takeshi Imamura, Akatsuki’s project scientist (Spaceflight Now).

Akatsuki is Japan’s second failure to enter a planet’s orbit. In 1999 and 2003, the country’s Nozomi robotic orbiter missed its opportunities to enter orbit around Mars. Akatsuki will have one final chance at entering orbit when it is in position again in about six years.

Product Review

The Brava Oven takes all the thinking out of cooking

Using bulbs to cook food at different light frequencies, the Brava Oven lets even the clueless cook a tasty meal. But your own smart chef doesn’t come cheap.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.
Emerging Tech

Parker Solar Probe captures first image from within the atmosphere of the sun

NASA has shared the first image from inside the atmosphere of the sun taken by the Parker Solar Probe. The probe made the closest ever approach to a star, gathering data which scientists have been interpreting and released this week.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.