A few days ago, the Solar Orbiter and BebiColombo probes carried out a historic flyby over Venus.
We have now seen an impressive record of this procedure.
Of course, the most striking thing about the video is the appearance of Venus, defined by NASA engineers as a huge flashing ball approaching at full speed.
It looks this bright because the planet’s body is reflective, in part, to its dense atmosphere, which is covered in thick CO2 clouds.
These clouds are capable of reflecting more than seventy percent of the solar radiation that arrives from space. To get an idea: the Earth reflects just under 40 percent.
“Ideally, we could have resolved some features on the night side of the planet, but there was too much signal from the day side,” explains NASA astrophysicist Phillip Hess in a statement.
“Only a fringe on the daytime side appears in the images, but it reflects enough sunlight to cause the bright crescent and the diffracted rays that appear to come from the surface.”
Two stars are also visible in the background at the beginning of the sequence, before they are dwarfed by the planet.
The one on the right is Omicron Tauri, and on the top left is Xi Tauri, known to be a quadruple star system. Both are part of the constellation Taurus.
This was Solar Orbiter’s second flyby of Venus, with one flyby of Earth in November 2021 and six more flybys of the planet scheduled from 2022 to 2030.