Venus stars in beguiling new images from BepiColombo spacecraft’s triumphant flyby

The BepiColombo spacecraft snapped this view of Venus with considered one of its “selfie” cameras throughout a profitable flyby of the planet.


Put one other incredible flyby within the historical past books. 

The BepiColombo spacecraft — a joint undertaking from the European House Company and Japan’s house company, JAXA — made a close approach to Venus this week as it really works towards its final vacation spot of Mercury. 

The house explorer snapped some enjoyable photographs of the intriguing planet alongside the best way.

Venus is a sizzling matter proper now since a surprising September study revealed phosphine, a gasoline with a doable organic origin, has been discovered within the planet’s clouds. BepiColombo took the chance of its scheduled flyby to gather some information together with the scenic views.

ESA tweeted a GIF of Venus wanting like a vibrant circle towards the darkish backdrop of house. The GIF is made up of 64 photographs and exhibits how BepiColombo moved from the dayside to the nightside of the planet.

The photographs look fairly lo-fi as a result of they have been taken with a set of “selfie” cameras made to observe the spacecraft itself. BepiColombo is supplied with a fancier digicam that will not come out to play till it will get to Mercury.

A few of BepiColombo’s science devices have been turned on through the flyby. 

“We’ll must be affected person whereas our Venus specialists look rigorously into the information, however we hope to have the ability to present some environment temperature and density profiles, details about the chemical composition and cloud cowl, and on the magnetic atmosphere interplay between the solar and Venus,” said BepiColombo project scientist Johannes Benkhoff in an ESA assertion Thursday.

The spacecraft already performed a flyby of Earth earlier this year and can carry out another Venus flyby in 2021 because it goals for Mercury. It will ultimately attain Mercury orbit in 2025 the place it’s going to cut up aside into two separate orbiters because it investigates the planet’s origins. 

Whereas the information from the 2020 flyby may very well be attention-grabbing, Benkhoff anticipates extra outcomes subsequent 12 months when BepiColombo will get a lot nearer to Venus for its subsequent flyby. Do not count on immediate solutions about the potential of alien life, however some extra puzzle items may fall into place due to Bepi. 

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Amanda Kooser