Venus, you look different even from here. Did you gain an orbiter since last time we saw you?
Venus is that distant, bright sparkle in the night sky over Earth. No matter how hard you squint, you’re not going to see Venus’s new climate observing spacecraft, Akatsuki–but it’s there! Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui snapped this photograph from his vantage point on the International Space Station to capture the dreams of his country (and space fans everywhere!) as the spacecraft approached Venus to make its audacious, last-ditch attempt at orbit. The plan worked, giving the planet its first robotic companion since the European Space Agency’s Venus Express died in January 2015.
A small segment of the station’s Kibo laboratory is barely poking into the top center of the frame, accompanied by the bright star Spica.
Later, Yui continued his celebration of the Japanese space agency by visiting Kibo, the Japanese Experiment Module. Kibo (“Hope”) is Japan’s contribution to the International Space Station, and the country’s first human space facility.
Top image: Venus seen from the International Space Station on December 5, 2016. Credit: NASA/JAXA/Kimiya Yui