Two spacecraft will fly across Venus next week in just 33 hours. The rare overflight that gives researchers the opportunity to observe the planet from multiple points of view almost simultaneously.
The two vehicles are the Solar Orbiter and the BepiColombo Mercury mission. The first is a collaboration of the European Space Agency with NASA and the second is a collaboration of ESA with the Japanese space agency, JAXA. The two spacecraft will fly through Venus on August 9 and 10, respectively, with the Solar Orbiter passing from a distance of about 8,047 km and BepiColombo practically grazing the planet at only 563 km.
I know what you are thinking. One of these orbiters is clearly focused on the Sun and the other on Mercury. What does it give? Why do they mix with Venus? Well, both spacecraft rely on gravity aids to reach their final destinations in the solar system. Gravity aids occur when spacecraft use the gravitational fields of cosmic objects to pull on a new trajectory, saving fuel.
Conveniently, the aids require spacecraft to approach relatively close to these objects, which provides Earth researchers with some additional data. The Solar Orbiter has been compressing these aids by gravity since last year; it is expected to make a total of six, five of which are Venus flybys. BepiColombo made a flyby of Earth in April 2020 and a flyby of Venus last October and is scheduled to make six Mercury flyers by 2025.
According to an ESA press release, during the wheel next week, none of the spacecraft will be able to imagine Venus in high resolution with its science cameras. The Solar Orbiter will need to stay focused on the Sun, and you guessed it, and the BepiColombo’s main camera is integrated into the boat’s transfer module. But two of BepiColombo’s monitoring cameras will take some black-and-white shots as they approach and pass through Venus. These images are expected to reach Earth within 24 hours of being taken. It is possible that the SoloHI imaginary of the Solar Orbiter may see the night of Venus.
BepiColombo will see Mercury for the first time in early October and the Solar Orbiter will pass through Earth in late November. Data from upcoming Venus flybys could be useful for ESA’s EnVision orbiter, which will be launched on Venus in the early 2030s. Even after the Solar Orbiter finishes visiting Earth, it will rotate. routinely by Venus, which will help you to position yourself to see the Sun better. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed and next week we’ll get some clear photos of these spaceships.