Selfie of Venus
BepiColombo, the European-Japanese spacecraft that headed to Mercury, snapped some incredible selfies this week while taking a close-up of Venus – and gathering data to help know recent findings suggesting that there may be life in the planet’s environment that is incomprehensible.
Courtesy of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), we see all 64 images taken in 52 seconds in an animated GIF form.
The short clip shows the spacecraft swoop first in the sun then on the night side of Venus – coming within 6,660 miles (10,720 kilometers) of the planet, according to ESA.
The images were taken by Monitoring Camera 2 on board the Mercury Transfer Module, the spacecraft that carries both Eury’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) of space space in Japan.
Venus is too bright to know any details on its surface – even the fastest shutter setting on spacecraft cameras has not made it dark, according to ESA.
But that did not stop the spacecraft from pointing some of the scientific instruments at the massive planet.
“We need to be patient as our Venus experts look at the data carefully, but we expect to be able to provide some temperature measurements and density profiles, information on chemical composition and cloud cover, and communication the relationship of the magnetic atmosphere between Sun and Venus, “Johannes Benkhoff, scientist of the BepiColombo project at ESA, said in a statement.
Road Trip to Mercury
BepiColombo uses flyby as a way to gain speed on its long journey to Mercury, also known as a gravity aid maneuver.
The move is the second of nine total flybys in a seven-year voyage aboard the innermost planet. It will still make another flyby near Earth, two around Venus, and six total near Mercury to enter its orbit.
Scientists are already anticipating the next Venus flyby of BepiColombo in August 2021 as it is closer.
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