NASA, ESA Solar Orbiter Spacecraft Captures Stunning Venus Footage in Flyby [WATCH]

NASA Solar Orbiter Captures Stunning Venus Footage in Flyby
NASA and the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter traversed near the planet Venus, sending back breathtaking footage of the brightly lit evening star. Photo : NASA/Unsplash

Consider it just like a breathtaking video from a never before seen destination.

In this case, the place has only been previously rendered in graphics or animation for presentation purposes. But now, NASA and the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter brought back real, dazzling footage of the otherwise nightmarish, uninhabitable planet Venus in a flyby.

The Solar Orbiter video from the spacecraft's Heliospheric Imager, or SoloHi, showed the brightly lit, glowing crescent of the evening star at a distance of 4,967 miles or 7,995 kilometers, Space.com reported.

Its Monday flyby came ahead of another spacecraft visiting the planet, the Mercury-bound BepiColombo, which is a joint mission of the ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which passed by at an even closer distance of only 340 miles or 550 kilometers. BepiColombo likewise sent back mesmerizing images of Venus.

Being in cruise phase, the two spacecraft were not able to use all of its instruments to make a close probe of Venus, as their cameras found it difficult to capture surface details of Venus due to the high albedo or reflectivity of the Sun's rays.

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Naval Research Laboratory astrophysicist Philip Hess said in a NASA statement, "there was too much signal from the dayside" to get clear pictures of Venus's nightside.

Venus Flyby Shows Glaring, Incredibly Bright Crescent

The footage taken on August 7 and 8 show Venus coming from the left side while the Sun is off camera to the upper right. Venus's nightside, which is hidden from the Sun, is seen as a dark semicircle surrounded by the glaring, incredibly bright crescent.

There are also two bright stars appearing in the background initially in the video before being eclipsed by the planet. NASA identified the rightmost star as Omicron Tauri, and to the left of it, Xi Tauri, a quadruple star system. These stars are part of the Taurus constellation, NASA added.

The US space agency said this the Solar Orbiter's second flyby near Venus, with six other flybys planned from 2022 to 2030. The spacecraft utilizes Venus's gravity to bring it closer to the Sun and tilt its orbit, thus taking it to a vantage point where it could look down on the Sun's north and south poles.

The Solar Orbiter, launched in February 2020, had captured the closest-ever images of the Sun, and subsequently make more near approaches to the Sun every six months, Newsweek posted.

Solar Orbiter Mission Seeks to Solve Mysteries of the Sun

NASA and ESA said the Solar Orbiter mission will answer such heliophysics mysteries, as the factor behind driving the Sun's 11-year cycle of rising and subsiding magnetic activity, and the reason why the upper layer of the Sun's corona or its upper atmospheric layer heats up to millions of degrees. The mission also seeks to know what generates and accelerates solar wind to speeds of hundreds of miles per second. And, how all of these solar activities affect the Earth.

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