Almost everyone considered Japan's Venus-bound orbiter a lost cause, but Akatsuki survived, reached its objective, and is wowing scientists with results.
Its engine blew up seven years ago, and by all rights the Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki shouldn't have survived.
Scientists from the European Space Agency's Venus Express spacecraft, which circled the planet from 2006 to 2015, were amazed by newly released Akatsuki images and pronounced them "fabulous."
Akatsuki was supposed to reach Venus and enter orbit on December 6, 2010, using an innovative ceramic thruster.
The spacecraft autonomously shut down its broken engine only partway through the intended orbit insertion burn, and it sailed right past Venus.
Akatsuki has been at Venus since December 9, 2015, and in its final science orbit since April 4, 2016.
Even more Akatsuki observations are readily available to the public, waiting to be explored and enjoyed. »