Hot dates: 2 spacecraft to make Venus flyby

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BERLIN (AP) — Two spacecraft are set to swoop past Venus within hours of each other this week, using the maneuver to do a little bit of bonus science on the way to the center of our solar system. The Solar Orbiter probe operated by NASA and the European Space Agency will swing around Venus early Monday, using the planet’s gravity to help put it on a course to observe the Sun’s poles. About 33 hours later, European-Japanese spacecraft BepiColombo will get even closer to Venus in a maneuver designed to help it slow down sharply and steer into the orbit of Mercury in 2025. Both probes have numerous scientific instruments on board, some of which will be used to take a closer look at Venus as they pass.

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