Mercury-bound spacecraft flies by Venus, beams back brilliant images

While making its way to Mercury, the BepiColombo, a European-Japanese spacecraft, made a close approach to Venus on Aug. 10, according to the European Space Agency.

The spacecraft snapped 89 images of Venus from cameras on the craft’s Mercury transfer module. After the photos were snapped, they were lightly processed to enhance contrast, the ESA said.

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The BepiColombo consists of the ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter. 

The two modules will separate on arrival in Mercury’s orbit, in late 2025.

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The 89 images were captured during one of a series of close Venus flybys that the ESA said are needed to help steer the BepiColombo toward Mercury.

The craft’s first flyby of Mercury, at a distance of 200 kilometers, is scheduled for October 2021.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.