The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of VenusVenus, the second planet from the sun, is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the moon, it is the second-brightest natural object in the night sky. Its rotation (243 Earth days) takes longer than its orbit of the Sun (224.7 Earth days). It is sometimes called Earth’s “sister planet” because of their similar composition, size, mass, and proximity to the Sun. It has no natural satellites.”>Venus on August 10, 2021, as the spacecraft passed the planet for a gravity assist maneuver.
The image was taken at 13:57:56 UTC by the Mercury Transfer Module’s Monitoring Camera 3, when the spacecraft was 1573 km from Venus. Closest approach of 552 km took place shortly before, at 13:51:54 UTC.
The cameras provide black-and-white snapshots in 1024 x 1024 pixel resolution. The image has been lightly processed to enhance contrast and use the full dynamic range. A small amount of optical vignetting is seen in the bottom left of the image.
The high-gain antenna of the Mercury Planetary Orbiter and part of the body of the spacecraft are visible in front of Venus, at top left.
The maneuver, the second at Venus and the third of nine flybys overall, helped 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. Its first Mercury flyby will take place October 1-2, 2021.
BepiColombo, which comprises ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXAFormed in 2003, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was born through the merger of three institutions, namely the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). JAXA performs various activities related to aerospace, from basic research in the aerospace field to development and utilization and is responsible for research, technology development, and launch of satellites into orbit, and is involved in advanced missions such as asteroid exploration and possible human exploration of the Moon.”>JAXA), is scheduled to reach its target orbit around the smallest and innermost planet of the Solar System in 2025.