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Japan delays new Venus probe launch due to weather conditions

05-18-2010 13:56 BJT

TOKYO, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The launch of a new Japanese space probe called Akatsuki, which was scheduled travel to Venus on a 2- year mission to study its climate and surface from Tuesday, has been postponed due to unfavorable weather conditions, local media sources reported.

The launch is now scheduled for May 21 or later, provided the weather is clear, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAEA) said.

The probe was moved to the launch pad in a space center in Kagoshima Prefecture on Monday and was set of lift off at 6:44 a.m. local time Tuesday (2144 GMT Monday). The launch was postponed 6 minutes before the scheduled launch time after thunder clouds were observed above the launch pad.

The rocket must be launched by June 3 at the latest in order to be placed in Venus' orbit, JAXA added.

The probe was said by local scientists to be the "world's first interplanetary probe that deserves to be called a meteorological satellite".

The probe carries five significant pieces of instrumentations to study Venus' clouds, the terrain of the planet whilst orbiting Venus from distances of 300 km to 80,000 km and the "super- rotation" of the planet's atmosphere, where, according to scientists, winds can drive storms and clouds around that planet at speeds of more than 220 kph, some 60 times faster than the planet itself rotates.

The probe is reported to be also carrying a payload including several smaller satellite experiments, such as a solar sail to be powered by the sun's radiation.

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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