The Solar Orbiter completed its first flyby around Venus. The device collected data on the planet’s atmosphere before heading towards the Sun.
The joint US-European spacecraft Solar Orbiter flew around Venus for the first time. This is one of the dozens of maneuvers that the device must make around the planet’s orbit before traveling to the Sun.
The solar orbiter approached Venus at a distance of 7.5 thousand kilometers. The probe, created in partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), launched in February, was supposed to spend seven years studying the Sun. But to get as close to the star as scientists want, the spacecraft needs to do a few maneuvers. Therefore, scientists want the device also to study the atmosphere of Venus.
“This mission is not specifically designed to observe Venus. However, we are always looking for bonus opportunities to engage in science, so yes, we will conduct observations when we approach Venus again, ”the researchers noted.
Scientists collected data using the spacecraft’s magnetometer, a radio and plasma wavemeter, and some sensors on an energy particle detector during today’s flyby. Given these instruments and the solar orbiter’s distance from Venus, observations will have “limited impact on science,” NASA researchers noted.