Space probe Solar Orbiter flies past Venus


On its mission to the sun, the Solar Orbiter probe flew very close to Venus. According to the European space agency Esa, it was only 7448 kilometers from Venus at 11:39 a.m. (and 20 seconds) Central European time on Sunday. “Everything went smoothly, there were no problems,” said the head of the Esa mission operations in the control center in Darmstadt, Simon Plum, on Monday.

Details on the exact trajectory will be given in the next week when the navigation data is evaluated. Due to the corona, only a small team had observed the flyby in the control center. A lot of things happen from home, says Plum. “The probe is slowed down and the orbit changed so that we can take a new look at the poles of the sun in the future.”

The mission of Esa and the US space agency NASA, which cost around 1.5 billion euros, was launched in February from Cape Canaveral in the US state of Florida. “Currently the probe is 231 million kilometers from the earth and 108 million kilometers from the sun,” said the expert. There are ten scientific instruments on board the 1.8-ton orbiter. Researchers hope to gain new knowledge about the sun and the magnetic field that drives solar storms or eruptions and thus also has an impact on our home planet.

Solar Orbiter approached the Sun to 77 million kilometers in June 2020.
(Image: NASA)

Solar Orbiter is said to fly within 42 million kilometers of the sun. In order to be protected from temperatures of several hundred degrees, the probe has a titanium heat shield. The first images of the orbiter from a distance of 77 million kilometers were presented in July. According to experts, no mission to take pictures of the star has been this close. The first dates of the mission have also been in since the end of September Solar Orbiter Archive available.

(Picture: THAT)

The flyby of Venus is the first of several maneuvers around the planet. In the years to come, Solar Orbiter will use the force of gravity of Venus again and again to change its orbit so that it can absorb the sun from different perspectives. The next flyby of Venus is planned for August 8, 2021. In total, the probe should orbit the sun 22 times.


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