spaceships solar orbit NS BepiColombo Ready to do space history with two flights Venus With a difference of only 33 hours on August 9 and 10.
Both need gravitational rotation to help them lose some orbital energy to reach their destination toward the center of the solar system. Dual flight also provides an unprecedented opportunity to study the environment of Venus from different locations at the same time, as well as locations that a dedicated planetary orbiter would not normally visit.
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The Solar Orbiter, a partnership between the European Space Agency and NASA, will fly over Venus on August 9 with a closest approach of 7,995 kilometers at 04:42 UTC. Throughout its mission, it causes repeated gravity to help Venus fly close to the Sun and change its orbital tilt, pushing it outside the plane of the ecliptic, for the best views of the solar pole.
BepiColombo, a partnership between ESA and JAXA, will fly over Venus at 13.48 UTC on August 10 at an altitude of just 550 kilometers. BepiColombo is headed to the mysterious planet deep in the solar system, Mercury. It needs a flyby of Earth, Venus, and Mercury itself, along with the spacecraft’s solar electric propulsion system, to help orbit Mercury against the Sun’s immense gravity.
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High-resolution images of Venus cannot be taken with the scientific cameras aboard any of the missions: The Solar Orbiter must face the Sun, and the main camera aboard BepiColombo is protected by the transmission module that will send the planetary orbiters to Mercury. However, two of the three BepiColombo observation cameras will capture images in close proximity and in the following days when the planet disappears from view.
The cameras provide black and white footage with a resolution of 1024 x 1024 pixels and are positioned in the Mercury Transfer Unit in such a way that it also captures solar panels and spacecraft antennas. On closer approach, Venus will fill the entire field of view, but when the spacecraft changes direction, the planet will be seen passing behind the spacecraft’s structural elements.
The images will be downloaded in batches, one by one, and the first image is expected to be available on the night of August 10 and mostly on August 11.
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In addition, there may be an opportunity for the Solar Orbiter’s SoloHI imager to observe the night side of Venus in the week before the closest approach. SoloHI generally takes pictures of the solar wind, the stream of charged particles constantly blasting off from the sun, and captures light scattered by electrons in the wind.
One spacecraft is not expected to be able to photograph the other. Even at their closest point, the spacecraft would be more than 575,000 km away.
Solar Orbiter has obtained data almost permanently since its launch in February 2020 with its four on-site instruments that measure the spacecraft’s surroundings. The Solar Orbiter and the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter and Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter modules will collect data on the magnetic and plasma environment of Venus from various locations.
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Meanwhile, JAXA’s Akatsuki spacecraft orbits Venus, creating a unique constellation of data points. It will take several months to collect coordinated flight measurements and analyze them in a useful way, the European Space Agency reports.
Data collected during the flights will also provide useful information on the European Space Agency’s future Venus rover, EnVision, which was selected earlier this year and will be launched to Venus in the 2030s.
Solar Orbiter and BepiColombo have another flight this year.
During the night of October 1 and 2, BepiColombo will see its destination for the first time, making the first of six flights from Mercury, just 200 km away. The two planetary orbiters will be sent to the orbit of Mercury in late 2025, tasked with studying all aspects of this mysterious inner planet, from its core to surface processes, the magnetic field, and the exosphere, for a better understanding. Origin and evolution of a planet close to its parent star.
On November 27, the Solar Orbiter will make a final flyby of Earth at an altitude of 460 km, beginning its main mission. It will continue to make regular flights of Venus to gradually increase its orbital inclination to better observe the sun’s unexplored polar regions, which is key to understanding the sun’s 11-year cycle of activity.
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