Two spacecraft carried out historical overflights of ">Venus this month, and both returned sci-fi-style views of the mysterious planet surrounded by clouds.
The Solar Orbiter and BepiColombo spacecraft both used Venus for gravitational assistance within 33 hours of each other, capturing unique images and data during their encounters.
Solar Orbiter, a joint mission between ESA and ">Nasa to study the Sun, passed Venus on August 9 at a distance of 7,995 km (4,967 miles). Then BepiColombo, a collaboration between ESA and JAXA to Mercury, passed just 552 km (343 miles) from the surface of the planet on August 10.
The lower right image in the collage above was taken when BepiColumbo was 1,573 km from Venus.
Here is a video of the Solar Orbiter view, from the SoloHI imager:
The camera observed the night side of Venus in the days leading up to the closest approach. SoloHI will be used to take images of the solar wind – the stream of charged particles constantly released from the Sun – by capturing the light scattered by electrons in the wind. In the days leading up to the Venus flyby, the telescope picked up the brilliant glare from the daytime side of the planet. The images show Venus moving across the field of view from the left, while the Sun is off camera in the upper right. The night side of the planet, the hidden part of the Sun, appears as a dark semicircle surrounded by a brilliant crescent of light, ESA scientists explained.
The two overflights helped the two spaceships reach their next destinations. BepiColombo is expected to reach the innermost planet of the solar system in October 2025. The spacecraft needs overflights of Earth, Venus, and then several overflights of Mercury itself, as well as the spacecraft’s solar electric propulsion system. , to help steer towards Mercury’s orbit against the Sun’s immense gravitational pull.
BepiColombo is actually made up of two attached orbiters: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter. The Planetary Orbiter will map the planet in detail, and the Magnetospheric Orbiter will, of course, study its magnetosphere.
This BepiColombo Venus flyby video includes sonication of data recorded by the Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) aboard the Mercury Planetary Orbiter spacecraft. The data from the accelerometer has been converted into frequency to be made audible to the human ear. The resulting sound is quite interesting, the sound reflecting the variations in the spacecraft’s accelerations due to the gravity of the planet acting on the structure of the spacecraft, as well as the effects due to the rapid changes in temperature, and the change. reaction wheel speed as they work hard to compensate for these effects. The audio was adapted at the time the images seen in this film were captured, in the moments following the closest approach.
Solar Orbiter will perform a final close flyby of Earth on November 27 this year, within 460 km (285 miles) before other Venus slingshots tilt its tilt, helping the spacecraft to get into the correct position. position to get the very first views of the Sun’s poles, a crucial part of the mission to help us understand the Sun’s 11-year activity cycle. The start of the primary mission also begins in November. It will take the images closest to the Sun as it approaches less than 42 million km and will measure the composition of the solar wind.
Originally published on Universe today.