October 23, 2021

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Venus views from NASA sun probe show potential of hitchhiking science instruments

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Halfway through a series of opportunistic Venus observations, scientists say that a NASA sun spacecraft’s success studying our strange neighbor will pave the way for future measurements.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched in August 2018 on a seven-year mission to touch the sun, dancing through our star’s corona, the sun’s superhot atmosphere that is invisible but shapes conditions across the solar system. That mission requires a trajectory creeping closer to the sun’s visible surface with each flyby, achieved by a series of seven swings past Venus. So, before Parker Solar Probe launched, atmospheric scientists made a case for why the spacecraft’s scientific instruments should be turned on during Venus flybys. Now, after just four of those Venusian maneuvers, the project’s success may point to a new way of studying Venus.



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