Given the approaching of the 1st Venus flybys and all related activities, this page is going to be updated at the end of July, and then regularly, until the end of the two events, in 2021.



vENUS FLYBYS in a nutshell


Date 15 October 2020 and 11 August 2021
Time 03:57 UTC and 14:00 UTC
Altitude about 10660 and 550 km 
Operation time   about 2 days before and after Closest Approach (or more)
Payloads Operated MMO: MPPE, MGF, PWI



Venus flybys WORKING GROUP

The long cruise of BepiColombo to Mercury offers a good opportunity to perform scientific measurements also at Venus during its two flybys in 15 October 2020 and in 11 August 2021.

The Venus Flybys Working group (VFBWG) aims to discuss about the scientific opportunities that may come from the flybys, promoting synergies among BepiColombo instrumentation and teams, and promoting coordination with other spacecraft and with Earth-based telescopes, with the goal to gather the maximum scientific output.



Given the BepiColombo instrumentation that may operate during cruise, and considering that it is specifically designed for a totally different environment like Mercury, the two possible topics of investigation at Venus can be summarized as:

  1. Atmosphere
  2. Ionosphere – Induced magnetosphere



The main goal of the present working group is to promote discussion on the Venus science as related to the BepiColombo passages nearby the planet, and focus on the synergy of the different instrumentation onboard and its possible contribution to Venus science.

In addition, promoting coordination among the BepiColombo instrumentation and other spacecraft at Venus (i.e. Akatsuki from JAXA) and Earth-based observation campaign is the other focus of the working group.

Venus flybys working group splinters are organized now monthly right after the BepiColombo SWT meetings (now virtual). The participation to the working group splinters is open to all BepiColombo team members.

Any other scientist interested to the Venus science may contact us:

  • WG Chair: Valeria Mangano, INAF-IAPS Roma, Italy (contact me at name.surname at
  • Guest scientist: Kandis Lea Jessup, SWRI Boulder, CO, USA
  • Guest scientist: Yeon Joo Lee, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany



The images below show the flyby trajectories of BepiColombo at Venus on October 15th 2020 (Bepi I,red) and August 11th 2021 (Bepi II, blue). Figure 1 shows the projection onto the VSO X-Y plane (-Y up); Figure 2 shows the projection onto the X-Z plane. Numbers plotted along the orbits give the expected universal time. Green and cyan profiles show average positions of bow shock and ion composition boundary (after Martinecz et al., 2009).

Simulated ion mass fluxes are also mapped in the background as derived by using the code PLUTO (Mignone et al., 2007, 2012 ) for average solar wind and ionospheric parameters.





Figure1: Venus flybys trajectories in XY plan, VSO system (courtesy of Markus Fraenz, MPI, Goettingen, Germany) 




Figure 2: Venus flybys trajectories in XZ plan, VSO system (courtesy of Markus Fraenz, MPI, Goettingen, Germany). 



first flyby

After the instruments tests performed during the Earth flyby on April 10th 2020, the first Venus flyby will be the first occasion to use instruments for scientific purposes in a planetary environment. 

The flyby at Venus will be on October 15th, 2020, almost 2 years after launch, at 03:57:49 UTC (Closest Approach CA).

Figure 1 shows that BepiColombo will approach the planet from the dayside and – keeping in mind the retrograde rotation of Venus -will have closest approach on the evening side.

Minimum altitude distance from the center of the planet will be 16714.8 km (that corresponds to 10663 km above the planet surface).

Apparent angular size of the planet at closest approach will be 42.45°.

Hence, the flyby will occur at about 2 Venus radii altitude, and the spacecraft is expected to cross the bowshock at about the CA time; the ionopause, instead, will be crossed later, when already in the tail region for the first time, at < 10 RV (entrance), and a second time much later (exit). Exit from the bowshock is expected to occur much later on the same day.

The flyby#1 configuration is optimal for both atmospheric and ionospheric/magnetospheric investigations of the Venus close environment.



second flyby

The second flyby at Venus will be about 10 months after the first, on August 11th, 2021.



VENUS FLYBYS scientific investigations

 - to be updated soon -






1) July 30th 2020 (at 14:30 CEST): focus on

                   Section 2: Upper atmosphere-Ionosphere-Induced magnetosphere

                                    2020 Opportunity



Valeria Mangano

Welcome and introduction


Part 1: knowing and measuring Venus


Markus Fraenz

Venus upper atmosphere: present knowledge and possible Bepi observations


Martin Volwerk

Venus magnetosphere: MPO-MAG expectations for observations during VFB1 





Part 2: Modeling Venus


Chuanfei Dong

Modeling of the solar wind interaction with Venus upper atmosphere and induced magnetosphere  


Salome Gruchola

Modeling the composition of Venus’ upper atmosphere and predictions for the BepiColombo flybys 





Valeria Mangano

Closing remarks


End of the splinter


nb: present agenda is only indicative of the topics and talks that will be done. The order of talks may change.

Webex link will be the same of the SWT meeting, and the Venus splinter will start right after it.


2) August 27th 2020 ? (after SWT meeting - date TBC)

       Focus on: coordinated Venus observation during flyby #2 (August 2021)

       Agenda: TBD


Previous Splinter MEETINGS

A splinter session on Venus flybys was usually dedicated in the BepiColombo SWT meetings. Agendas can be found here: 

Presentations can be found in the livelink devoted section:

More recently, given the COVID emergence, SWT meetings became virtual and monthly.
Venus splinter meetings adapted to the same style. Here a list of last one(s):

- June 25th 2020 (15:30-17:00 CEST) focused on

nb. after the Observations of Venus at 1st flyby, Ricardo Hueso will talk about "The Europlanet Telescope Network: Possible pro-amateur collaborations before and during the Bepi-Colombo Venus Flyby".