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Solar Orbiter and BepiColombo to make history with double Venus flyby

Source: ESA

Edinburgh, 4 August 2021. – Two spacecraft, Solar Orbiter and BepiColombo, will fly by Venus in August, in mission cooperations of three space agencies, ESA, NASA, and JAXA, the European agency said.

The two spacecraft will fly by Venus just 33 hours apart with Solar Orbiter arriving first on 9th August followed by BepiColombo on 10th August. The missions create a unique opportunity to study the planet’s environment at multiple places at the same time. ESA said.

Solar Orbiter, a partnership between ESA and NASA, will fly by the ´morning star´ with a closest approach of 7995 km. The orbiter’s imager might be able to capture the nightside of Venus in the next few days.

BepiColombo, a partnership between ESA and JAXA, will fly by Venus at an altitude of just 550 km. Three monitoring cameras of the spacecraft will be taking photos of the planet at the time of close approach and also in the days after. The first images are expected to be available on 10 August.

Both orbiters will have another flyby this year and are planned to acquire data on the magnetic and plasma environment of Venus. Meanwhile, JAXA’s Akatsuki spacecraft is in orbit around the planet as well, creating a constellation of datapoints. Measurements collected during the flybys will provide valuable input for ESA’s future Venus orbiter, EnVision, due to launch in the 2030s.

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