When the photos come in of probes approaching the Solar System's second planet. In August, we'll reach Venus twice in a day and a half.
August 2021 will be an important month for space exploration. Humanity will reach Venus, twice and with an interval of only 33 hours. Making space history will be Solar Orbiter and BepiColombo, which will approach the Solar System's second planet on August 9 and 10.
The journey to the center of the Solar System is therefore underway right now: the one-two punch of researchers will offer not only the opportunity to study the environment of Venus from different places, at the same time, but also to reach points of view that are not normally adopted by planetary orbiters - for those who do not know, orbiters are spacecraft that orbit a planet or a natural satellite, without landing on the surface.
Which space probes will approach Venus in August
Solar Orbiter is a collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA. The mission involves an approach of 7995 km at 04:42 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which corresponds to 06:42 on August 9 here in Italy. The orbiter "made in Europe" will repeatedly fly over Venus relying on gravity to approach the Sun and change its orbital inclination: we expect wonderful views of the Sun and the poles of Venus.
BepiColombo is instead developed by NASA in partnership with JAXA, the Japanese space agency. It will arrive in position at 3:48 p.m. Aug. 10 - Italian time. The Japanese-American orbiter, however, is only passing through and will continue its journey to Mercury, to the innermost frontier of the Solar System - which, to be clear, is a real hell, given the impossible temperatures and the gravitational pull of the Sun.
When the photos of the probes approaching Venus arrive
What should we expect? Well, lots of pictures, but of a quality we're no longer used to. The snapshots will all be in black and white and a resolution of 1024 x 1024 pixels, due to technical limitations of a technology that however, it is good to remember, is about to accomplish an extraordinary feat.
The first photos will arrive on August 10, while most will be available the next day. Venus continues to fascinate scholars and it is not surprising that it is the final destination of several missions, one of which bears the name of an Italian genius and sees Italy shoulder to shoulder with NASA. Among the mysteries of the second planet that astronomers are investigating, the one that could reveal us how life will end on Earth.