37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 18 Future Missions and Instrumentation
Poster, Monday, September 5, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Lecture Room 5

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[18.15] Venus Climate Orbiter: Japan's First Mission to Venus

M. Nakamura, T. Imamura, T. Abe, N. Ishii (ISAS/JAXA), M. Ueno (University of Tokyo)

Venus Climate Orbiter (VCO), aka Planet-C, is the first Venus exploration mission of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which now is in the phase B study. VCO is scheduled to be launched via M-V rocket around 2009-2010. Arrival to Venus will be in late 2010.

The main target of VCO is the meteorology of this Earth's twin sister. The wind system of Venus is characterized by so-called super-rotation: the atmosphere at the cloud-top level rotates around the planet within 4 Earth days, although the planet itself rotates much slower at a period of 243 Earth days. To study in detail the atmospheric dynamics of Venus, VCO will be inserted to a nearly-equatorial and retrograde orbit around the planet. The orbit is an elongated ellipse (30 hours period) with the periapsis at 300 km from the planet's surface and the apoapsis at 13 Venus radii. The orbit is so designed that the angular motion of the spacecraft is synchronized with the westward motion of the cloud-level atmosphere as longer time as possible. Thus, VCO is expected to perform just as the geostationary meteorological satellites do. Five cameras onboard VCO will produce successive global images at a variety of wavelengths while the spacecraft is in this portion of the orbit. Such images will enable us to derive the three-dimensional global structure of the atmospheric circulation. The shadow of Venus is utilized for observing lightning and airglow. Radio occultation will also be performed to observe the vertical profiles of temperature and sulfuric acid vapor.

We expect the data obtained from VCO will complements scientific results from ESA's Venus Express Mission and greatly enhance our knowledge about Venus. A new research field ``Planetary Meteorology" will be opened by this new mission.

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