16 October 2020 Industry News

BepiColombo’s first glimpse of Venus

BepiColombo's first look at Venus which appears towards the left, close to the spacecraft structure. Image: ESA
BepiColombo's first look at Venus which appears towards the left, close to the spacecraft structure. Image: ESA

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured its first glimpse of Venus on 14 October 2020 as the spacecraft approached the planet for a gravity assist manoeuvre a day later.

The image was taken at 07:25 UTC within 600 000 km of Venus. The image was taken by the Mercury Transfer Module’s Monitoring Camera 3. The cameras provide black-and-white snapshots in 1024 x 1024 pixel resolution.

Venus appears towards the left, close to the spacecraft structure. The high-gain antenna of the Mercury Planetary Orbiter is also visible a the top of the view.

The manoeuvre, the first at Venus and the second of nine flybys overall, helped steer the spacecraft on course for Mercury. During its seven-year cruise to the smallest and innermost planet of the Solar System, BepiColombo makes one flyby at Earth, two at Venus and six at Mercury to brake against the gravitational pull of the Sun in order to enter orbit around Mercury.

BepiColombo, which comprises ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is scheduled to reach its target orbit around the smallest and innermost planet of the Solar System in 2025.

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