The European Space Agency (ESA) offers us a double flight over Venus in less than 33 hours! On Monday, August 9, 2021, the Solar Orbiter probe, on its way to the Sun, passed just under 8,000 kilometers from the planet and on Tuesday, around 3:50 pm (French time), BepiColombo, on its way to Mercury, flew by Above Venus is only 550 km away.
Two approaches but few pictures
In their race in the solar system and in the approach of Venus, the two instruments cannot use their scientific cameras: those of the Solar Orbiter must remain pointed in front of the Sun while the optical instruments of the BepiColombo mission are currently closed and protected. . On the other hand, navigation cameras and environmental measuring devices work and take permanent readings. The first image was revealed late Tuesday evening. These passages around Venus allow ships’ paths to be modified: the solar orbiter must adjust its orbital inclination to be able to target the sun’s poles for the first time. For BepiColombo, it’s about getting into orbit around Mercury.
The first pictures to fly #Venus by Tweet embed During a gravity assist maneuver it has arrived! The photo below was taken 6 minutes from the nearest pass, at a distance of 1,573 km. More pictures coming tonight! https://t.co/Rj1oFrAzvS pic.twitter.com/m94E24zG7q
– ESA France (@ESA_fr) August 10, 2021
Almost simultaneous flight of the two machines will make it possible to implement a “multipoint science”. In fact, four instruments from the Solar Orbiter and two from BepiColombo will take readings at two different places above Venus, and add to this the measurements of Akatsuki, the Japanese probe currently around the planet. Collecting information from the three sensors will help build a unique constellation of data points, the European Space Agency explains on its site. However, it will take several months to coordinate and analyze it.
In case you weren’t up as early as us this morning Tweet embed completed the second # Venus Flybe Before breakfast 😉 Next: Tweet embed! We’ll have lunch Tweet embed chat with Tweet embed to hear more. Listen here at 13:00 CEST https://t.co/T8x6G199xV pic.twitter.com/nBS8Zs1Uj
– ESA Science (esascience) August 9, 2021
Two sensors in one
After this passage over Venus, the Solar Orbiter probe will head towards Earth, where it will fly over it on November 27, 2021, with the aim of adjusting its course. This visit will begin its main mission. BepiColombo will make its first transit around its target, Mercury, on the night of October 1-2, this year as well.
This mission includes not one but two probes: the European Space Agency (ESA) Mercury Planetary Probe (MPO) and the Japan Space Agency’s (JAXA) Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The two probes were launched at the same time, paired with the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) responsible for transporting them to the planet closest to the Sun. Planned arrival: December 2025. If their journey spans over a long period, it is because there are many constraints to consider. In particular, the small amount of fuel carried by the transmission unit as well as the weak gravity of Mercury compared to the nearby sun. To be able to put a machine into orbit around it, it is necessary… the brakes. Because of this, the MTM is now passing around Venus and will make a total of 6 flybys of Mercury before settling into orbit and launching the probes.
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