The existence of lightning discharges in the Venus atmosphere has been controversial for more than 30 years, with many positive and negative reports published. The lightning and airglow camera (LAC) onboard the Venus orbiter, Akatsuki, was designed to observe the light curve of possible flashes at a sufficiently high sampling rate to discriminate lightning from other sources and can thereby perform a more definitive search for optical emissions. Akatsuki arrived at Venus during December 2016, 5 years following its launch. The initial operations of LAC through November 2016 have included a progressive increase in the high voltage applied to the avalanche photodiode detector. LAC began lightning survey observations in December 2016. It was confirmed that the operational high voltage was achieved and that the triggering system functions correctly. LAC lightning search observations are planned to continue for several years.
- Lightning and airglow camera