The mission will study Venusian atmosphere; solar sail experiment hitches a ride
A probe to the solar system's most hellish planet is set for launch later today in Japan. If all goes well, the Japanese Akatsuki probe, about the size of a small car, should reach the second planet by December, where it will study the sulfuric acid clouds of the Venusian atmosphere.
Launch time is set for 6:15 a.m. Tuesday in Japan -- about 5:15 p.m. Eastern time Monday. Akatsuki means "dawn" in Japanese, a nod to Venus' status as the morning star in that part of the world. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, which developed the probe, is calling it the first meteorological satellite on another world.