The BepiColombo mission obtained this image when it passed near Venus on August 10. The spacecraft used the gravity of Venus to propel itself toward its final destination: Mercury. It is one of the two spacecraft that will fly over the planet this week, the other being the Solar Orbiter probe, which actually passed by yesterday.
BepiColombo, a joint mission between the European Space Agency and the Japan Space Exploration Agency, consists of two probes: the Mercury probe and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter. The first maps the planet in great detail and the second studies its magnetosphere. But for all this to happen, it was necessary to get rid of the spacecraft thanks to the gravity of Venus. By pure chance, the solar orbit was also close, giving scientists a unique observation opportunity. We are still waiting for news of how the Solar Orbiter probe flew yesterday.
The European Space Agency explained in release. Although slightly modified (to improve contrast), the image was able to capture the Mercury planetary probe’s antenna and part of BepiColombo’s body.
This was the second assisted gravity of BepiColombo on Venus and The third of nine flights That spacecraft plans to perform as it gets closer and closer to Mercury. The spacecraft got very close: just under 563 kilometers above the planet’s surface, which is especially impressive when compared to the flight of the Solar Orbiter probe, which yesterday reached only about 8000 kilometers from the planet, according to the European Space Agency.
The upcoming BepiColombo flights are expected to be above Mercury and will allow the spacecraft to decelerate enough to position itself in the planet’s orbit. The first of them will be in early October.
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