Parker Solar Probe has a Venus flyby today


This was Parker Solar Probe’s location on September 30, 2021, when the craft performed a short maneuver to set it on course for the October 16 Venus flyby. The green lines denote the spacecraft’s path since launch on Aug. 12, 2018; the red loops indicate the probe’s future, progressively closer orbits toward the Sun.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Yanping Guo.

Parker Solar Probe will perform its next Venus flyby on October 16, 2021. The spacecraft performed a short preparatory maneuver on September 29. The maneuver changed the craft’s speed by 9.7 centimeters per second, or less than a third of a mile per hour. That slight was critical for placing the craft on course for Saturday’s Venus gravity assist, when it will use the planet’s gravity to swing toward its 10th close approach to the sun.

The September 29 maneuver was monitored from the mission operations center at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. APL also designed and built Parker Solar Probe and said is:

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… healthy and its systems are operating normally. The spacecraft completed its 9th solar encounter on August 15, 2021, at closest approach coming within 6.5 million miles (10.4 million km) of the sun’s surface. The upcoming Venus gravity assist will send the spacecraft even closer to the sun’s blazing surface – about 5.6 million miles (9 million km) – on November 21.

Assisted by two additional Venus flybys, Parker Solar Probe will eventually come within 4 million miles (6.4 million km) of the solar surface in late 2024.

In all, the probe has 24 scheduled orbits around the sun during its seven-year mission. During this time, NASA likes to say, the probe will “touch” the sun, that is, fly within the sun’s atmosphere. During each of its sweeps past the sun, NASA said, the Parker Solar Probe will break its own nearness records to the sun.

Large, crisp white-edged orb with mottled surface, and short thin white lines against star field.
The Parker Solar Probe flew past Venus in July 2020, prior to its 8th and 9th close sweeps past the sun, on April 29 and August 9, 2021. It captured this image of the planet with streaking cosmic rays, dust and background stars. Image via NASA.

Bottom line: Parker Solar Probe will perform a close Venus flyby on October 16, 2021. The gravity assist from Venus will send the probe on toward its 10th close approach to the sun on November 21, 2021.


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