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Solar Orbiter and BepiColombo to make double flybys- will take magnificent pictures


Published on: August 4, 2021,

Solar Orbiter and BepiColombo (Orbiters) will fly to Venus just 33 hours apart on August 9 and 10, 2021. They will need gravitational swingby to loose orbital energy and reach destination towards the center of the Solar System. They will orbit the Venus from two different location i.e. one from right and other from left and study the Venus environment.


Solar Orbiter is a partnership between ESA( European Science Agency) and NASA. It will fly Venus on August 9. It will make a number of elliptical circling’s to get closer to the Sun and change its orbital inclination to get best and first view of Sun’s poles. Then it will fly around Venus.  BepiColombo is a partnership between ESA( European Science Agency)  and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agenc). It will fly Venus on August 10 at an altitude of 550 km.


It will not be possible to take high resolution imagery of Venus by the either mission. Solar Orbiter must remain facing the Sun and the main camera onboard Bepi Colombo   is shielded by transfer module that will deliver two planetary orbiters to mercury. But BepiColombo’s three camera will be taking pictures around the close approach and in days when the planet fades from view. The images will be black-and-white snapshots in 1024 x 1024 pixel resolution. When there is closest approach there will full view of Venus. The images will be downloaded in batches, one by one. Most of the images will be available on evening of August 10, and the majority on August 11. But one orbiters won’t be able to take picture of others even when they are closest to each other. There might be opportunity for Solar Orbiter’s SoloHI imager to observe nightside of Venus in the week before closest approach. SoloHI can can capture the light scattered by electrons in the wind.


Solar Orbiter and BepiColombo will fly one more time this year. During the night of October 1-2 BepiColombo will fly to Mercury. On November 27 Solar Orbiter will make final flyby of Earth at 460 km to observe Sun’s uncharted Polar Regions. It will understand Sun’s 11 year activity cycle.



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