Solar Orbiter probe makes its first Venus flyby
The ESA-NASA Solar Orbiter probe is pretty busy on its way to the sun. Space.com notes that the spaceship has completed its first flyby of Venus and is gathering information about the hellish planet as it swings east around 7:39 a.m. There won't be photos if the telescopes focus on the main mission, but the Solar Orbiter collected magnetometer, particle, plasma and radio data that could provide insights into how Venus interacted with solar winds.
Scientists expect it will take a few days before they can analyze the results and determine if there are any discoveries. Just don't expect big surprises - this is not a Venus-oriented ship, and the 4,700 mile distance limited what Solar Orbiter could study.
Still, it's an important milestone. This is Solar Orbiter's first flyby and one of the first opportunities to obtain data as part of its seven-year mission. Think of this as the probe getting down to business in earnest.
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On This Day: 22 October 2018