CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (CN) — NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is set to receive a gravity assist Wednesday as the spacecraft flies past Venus on its journey to the sun.
Launched in August, the Parker probe has seven Venus flybys ahead of it as it works its way ever closer to the sun. As it makes the first of these passes Wednesday, flying within 1,500 miles of Venus, the spacecraft is set to get a gravity assist that will put the probe on track to get within 15 million miles of the sun’s surface in November.
A NASA spacecraft set the last record for close solar encounters as well in 1976 from 27 million miles out.
Over the next seven years, NASA plans to launch 24 similar orbits into the upper atmosphere of the sun known as the corona. This gap will eventually shrink to 3.8 million miles.