Venus is the star of the solar system right now, according to scientists. Lucky for us, it will zoom past the planet this week on its way to its final destination Mercury.
BepiColombo, a joint project of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese space agency JAXA, will have turned on some of its scientific instruments as it approaches Venus on Wednesday night US time.
ESA Operations will share flyby updates via live tweets from 20:30 PT on October 14.
BepiColombo’s “selfie” camera will be on. For an example of what you can expect visually, check these outEarlier this year.
It takes a few hours to receive photos back on Earth, but you can keep an eye on the BepiColombo main account for updates.
Don’t expect an answer to the big question of whether Venus is secretly hosting alien life in its clouds. It will take time,to find out. But BepiColombo strives to collect data on the planet’s atmosphere and the space environment around it.
Two Venus flybys are part of BepiColombo’s long multi-year journey to Mercury. The second flying city is set for 2021. The maneuvers help to place the spacecraft in place to reach its destination.
BepiColombo are actually several spacecraft in one. They will split apart when they reach an orbit around Mercury in 2025. Mercury may be the main course, but the mission will hopefully also increase our understanding of Venus at a time when science is keen to explore the possibility of alien life on a hot, inhospitable planet. .