The Akatsuki spacecraft, also known as the Venus Climate Orbiter (VCO), captured this image of Venus on December 6, 2015.
Launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in May 2010, the spacecraft arrived at Venus seven months later. It failed to enter orbit when a faulty valve in the fuel pressure system malfunctioned, which in turn affected the engine firing schedule. VCO flew by the planet and circled the Sun for five years before JAXA was finally able to place it into an alternative elliptical Venusian orbit on December 7, 2015.
Carrying a suite of six instruments, the spacecraft will study the dynamics of the planet’s atmosphere from orbit. It will also measure atmospheric temperatures and look for evidence of volcanic activity and lightning.