The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a sequence of images of Venus, taken by its Mercury-bound BepiColombo spacecraft.
BepiColombo swung by Venus and captured its first glimpse of our immediate planetary neighbour, which appears as a circular orb, visible beneath the craft’s instruments.
A flurry of black-and-white snapshots were taken between 7:58am and 2:57pm BST on Wednesday, corresponding to a distance of approximately 372,000 to 248,000 miles from Venus.
Another set of images taken during an even closer approach in the early hours of Thursday, about 6,660 miles from Venus, give a much larger view of the planet, going from right to left across the field of view.
The closest approach of the flyby took place at 4:58am on Thursday morning, the ESA confirmed in a report.
The British-built craft, which launched in 2018, is now adjusting its course on the way to Mercury, the solar system’s smallest and innermost planet, which it should reach by December 2025.
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The BepiColombo mission is named after the Italian mathematician and engineer Giuseppe (Bepi) Colombo (1920-84).
Its seven-year journey is a joint mission between the ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
One piece of equipment on board, the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS), Magnumslot was built by the University of Leicester and funded by the UK Space Agency.
It will work alongside a second spectrometer called SIXS to analyse surface composition via fluorescent X-rays when it arrives at Mercury.
BepiColombo’s first Venus flyby.The second imaging opportunity produced the much larger image of Venus than the first, where it appeared as a small blob
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox floatRHS sciencetech" data-version="2" id="mol-a61ac9d0-0f17-11eb-b6ea-013c40effa56" website satellite captures images of Venus as it travels towards Mercury