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BepiColombo points to Venus

Written by  Wednesday, 14 October 2020 13:00
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BepiColombo points to Venus Image: BepiColombo points to Venus

A sequence of images taken by one of the monitoring cameras on board the European-Japanese BepiColombo mission to Mercury, as the spacecraft slewed to point towards Venus ahead of its 15 October flyby.

This sequence of 64 images was captured by the Monitoring Camera 3 onboard the Mercury Transfer Module between 06:58 UTC and 13:57 UTC on 14 October 2020, corresponding to a distance of approximately 600 000 km to 400 000 km from Venus. One image was taken approximately every three minutes. At first, Venus is seen clearly moving across the field of view close to the spacecraft body on the left, because the spacecraft is slewing to point to Venus. Then, Venus gets progressively bigger in the field of view, as the spacecraft approaches. The shadow moving across the spacecraft is cast by the Mercury Transfer Module solar array. 

The camera provides black-and-white snapshots in 1024 x 1024 pixel resolution. The images have been lightly processed to enhance the brightness and contrast.

The gravity assist manoeuvre was the first at Venus and the second of nine flybys overall, which help 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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