Venus from the International Space Station (December 5, 2015)

Venus from the International Space Station (December 5, 2015)

On Dec. 5, 2015, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Kimiya Yui captured this image from the International Space Station of the planet Venus shining bright. Part of the station’s Kibo laboratory with the star Spica visible below is seen at the top of the frame. At the time this photograph was taken, Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft, a Venus climate orbiter, was nearing the planet.

At about 7 p.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 6, the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) at JAXA commanded Akatsuki to fire four thrusters, which successfully nudged the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit around Venus. This JAXA mission is being celebrated by NASA scientists, eager to learn more about the atmosphere and climate of Earth’s enigmatic sister planet. Akatsuki is the first spacecraft to explore Venus since the European Space Agency’s Venus Express reached the end of its mission in 2014.

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