The spacecraft BepiColumbo, a joint venture of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), has just launched a spin around Venus to slow it down on its way towards Mercury. The maneuver took place last Wednesday evening just before midnight Eastern Time.
The $ 2 billion starship was originally launched in October 201
ESA BepiColumbo project scientist Johannes Benkhoff said The edge“You actually need a lot of energy to put a spaceship into orbit around Mercury. And there are two alternatives to get this energy: One is to have a lot of fuel, which makes your spaceship bulky and heavy. The other alternative is to use the help of the planets. “
Although the Sun’s strong gravitational pull accelerates the spacecraft’s speed as it approaches Mercury, JAXA and ESA scientists have found that hurling BepiColumbo around Venus is the most efficient way to slow it down and keep it on course. It will complete six flybys around Mercury before falling into perfect orbit in December 2025.
Since the spaceship will complete a flyby past Venus, scientists are also using the mission as an opportunity to study this planet as well. Scientists recently discovered traces of phosphine, a gas in Venus’s atmosphere that is highly associated with life on Earth. Because of this, scientists are curious and eager to learn more about the gas and its origins on the planet.
via The Verge