Science & Technology

Solar Orbiter Captures Venus’ Glare During Close Pass of Our Solar System’s Hottest Planet

Footage of Venus captured by the Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imager aboard ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter. Credit score: ESA/NASA/NRL/SoloHI/Phillip Hess

On August 9, 2021, ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft handed inside 4,967 miles (7,995 kilometers) of the floor of planet Venus. Within the days main as much as the strategy, the Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imager, or SoloHI, telescope captured this gleaming view of the planet.

The pictures present Venus approaching from the left whereas the Solar is off digital camera to the higher proper. The planet’s nightside, the half hidden from the Solar, seems as a darkish semicircle surrounded by a vibrant crescent of mild – glare from Venus’ extremely vibrant sunlit aspect.

“Ideally, we’d have been capable of resolve some options on the nightside of the planet, however there was simply an excessive amount of sign from the dayside.” stated Phillip Hess, astrophysicist on the Naval Analysis Laboratory in Washington, D.C. “Solely a sliver of the dayside seems within the photos, however it displays sufficient daylight to trigger the intense crescent and the diffracted rays that appear to return from the floor.”

Two vibrant stars are additionally seen within the background early within the sequence, earlier than being eclipsed by the planet. The rightmost is Omicron Tauri, and above and to the left of it’s Xi Tauri, which is definitely a quadruple star system. Each are half of the Taurus constellation.

This was Solar Orbiter’s second Venus flyby, with an Earth flyby in November 2021 and 6 extra Venus flybys deliberate from 2022 to 2030. The spacecraft makes use of Venus’ gravity to attract it nearer to the Solar and tilt its orbit, swinging it up and out in order to “look down” on the Solar. From this vantage level, Solar Orbiter will ultimately seize the primary photos of the Solar’s north and south poles.

On August 10, simply in the future later, ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Company’s BepiColombo mission additionally flew by Venus. Be taught extra concerning the double flyby and see BepiColombo’s photos in ESA’s coverage of the occasion.

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