The BepiColumbo spacecraft, a joint venture of the Japanese Space Research Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), just completed a hose slope around Venus to help slow it down as it continues on its way to mercury. The maneuver took place last Wednesday night, just before midnight Eastern Time.
The $ 2 billion spacecraft was originally launched in October 2018 and actually houses two spacecraft – one from each agency. When it has completed its seven-year journey towards mercury, the two spacecraft (one from each agency) will separate and spend a year orbiting the planet so that they can collect data on its atmosphere, structure and magnetic field.
ESA BepiColumbo project researcher Johannes Benkhoff spoke The border“You actually need a lot of energy to put a spacecraft into orbit around mercury. And there are two options for getting this energy: one is to have a lot of fuel, which makes your spacecraft bulky and heavy. The second option is to use the help of the planets. ”
So while the intense pull of the sun will accelerate the spacecraft’s speed as it approaches mercury, JAXA and ESA scientists decided that winding BepiColumbo around Venus is the most effective way to slow it down and keep it on track. It will complete six aviation cities around Mercury before ending up in perfect orbit with it in December 2025.
Since the spacecraft will complete a flyby past Venus, scientists are also using the mission as an opportunity to study that planet as well. Recently, scientists discovered trace amounts of phosphine, a gas in Venus’ atmosphere and one that is strongly associated with life on Earth. As a result, scientists are curious and eager to get a chance to learn more about gas and its origin on the planet.
via The Verge