This episode was recorded on Tuesday, March 20 at 8 pm EDT / 5 pm PDT / 0:00 UTC Wednesday.
If you want to get around in the Solar System, you’ll want to take advantage of natural gravitational speed boosts and transfer orbits. Whether you’re heading to the outer Solar System or you want to visit the Sun itself, the planets themselves can help you in your journey.
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Missions using gravity assists:
Mariner 10 was first.
Voyager 2 was biggest one – sling-shooting around Jupiter and shooting out past Neptune towards Uranus
Voyager 1 took another look at Jovian moons
Galileo studied Jupiter and moons by going by Venus and Earth
Ulysses from ESA used Jupiter to sling around and study polar regions of the Sun
MESSENGER used one flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and three flybys of Mercury before finally arriving at Mercury
Cassini passed by Venus twice, then Earth, and finally Jupiter on the way to Saturn.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission, scheduled for launch in 2018, will use multiple gravity assists at Venus to remove the Earth’s angular momentum from the orbit, in order to drop down to a distance of 8.5 solar radii (5.9 Gm) from the Sun. Parker Solar Probe’s mission will be the closest approach to the Sun by any space mission.
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