Hot dates: 2 spacecraft to make Venus flyby

9th August, 2021.      //   Space Travel  // 


BERLIN (AP) — This week, two spacecraft will fly through Venus within hours of one other, taking advantage of the opportunity to perform some extra science on their route to their primary missions in the core of our solar system.

Early Monday, the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter probe, which is a collaboration with NASA, will swing around Venus, using the planet’s gravity to assist it choose a path to monitor the Sun’s poles.

BepiColombo, a European-Japanese spacecraft, will approach much closer to Venus some 33 hours later in a maneuver meant to let it slow down drastically and safely steer into Mercury’s orbit in 2025.

“Without the flyby, we would not be able to reach our target planet,” Elsa Montagnon, BepiColombo’s spacecraft operations manager said. “The energy required to enter into orbit of Mercury would be prohibitively expensive in terms of propellant.”

Both probes are equipped with a variety of scientific instruments, some of which will be utilized to get a closer look at Venus as they pass by.

The data will be added to that collected by the Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki, which is currently orbiting Earth’s hotter neighbor. Three additional trips to Venus are planned by NASA and the European Space Agency by the end of the decade.