Akatsuki Probe Reaches Venus In Search Of Strong Winds

Japan's Akatsuki probe has finally reached Venus, with scientists anxiously awaiting news on whether it has successfully entered orbit around the planet. If so, Akatsuki will circle Venus for two years, monitoring volcanic activity and providing data on its thick cloud cover and climate.

It's taken several months for the probe to reach Venus, having been launched on May 20 2010; its orbit will be elliptical in nature, swinging back from the planet to gain overviews of weather patterns, then moving in closer – just 190 miles above the surface – to track more in-depth activity. The project cost the equivalent of $300m, and will hopefully clear up speculation over Venus' strong wind patterns, believed to see up to 220mph gusts.