Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft got another shot at Venus after a main engine failure during a crucial orbital-insertion burn meant it zipped past the planet on its first attempt in December 2010. The probe spent five years orbiting the Sun so it could catch up with Venus to try again on 7 December. The successful nail-biting manoeuvre is being celebrated by NASA scientists, eager to learn more about the atmosphere and climate of Earth’s enigmatic sister planet.
The European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft has found the best evidence yet for active volcanism on Earth’s neighbour planet. Seeing the planet’s surface is extremely difficult due to its thick atmosphere, but radar observations by previous missions to Venus have revealed it as a world covered in volcanoes and ancient lava flows.