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Active Interplanetary Missions

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  • #46
    European-Japanese spacecraft BepiColombo passed Venus on its first flyby on Oct. 15th, last week.

    Minimum altitude during the crossing was 10,720 km, i.e. less than the diameter of Earth or Venus itself.

    A second flyby of Venus will occur on August 10th 2021, far closer at only 552 km altitude.

    BepiColombo is on its way to Mercury, with 6 flybys planned there before orbital insertion around the planet in late 2025. The spacecraft is carrying two satellites which it will place in different orbits around the planet in early 2026.

    Originally it was not planned for the spacecraft to conduct any science at Venus, and some of its instruments are unavailable since in the travel configuration they're stowed away inside it. An opportunity campaign was designed in 2017, only a year before launch, which involves observing Venus's atmosphere and ionosphere up close during the two flybys, as well as four opportunities to image the (sun-facing) dayside from afar in order to gain spectra to compare exoplanets to.


    • #47
      China performed the first liftoff from the moon in 44 years today. Also, first liftoff ever from the "dark side" of the moon.

      Right side = computer graphic, left side = actual view of the ascent stage from the lander.

      Last liftoff was Luna 24 in 1976, the third and last Soviet sample-return mission.
      Last edited by kato; 03 Dec 20,, 20:59.