CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is swinging by Venus on its unprecedented journey to the sun.

Launched in August, the spacecraft gets a gravity assist Wednesday as it passes within 1,500 miles of Venus. The flyby is the first of seven that will draw Parker ever closer to the sun.

The Sun (NASA)

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By the end of October, Parker will shatter the current record for close solar encounters, set by a NASA spacecraft in 1976 from 27 million miles out. Parker will get within 15 million miles of the sun’s surface in November. Twenty-four such orbits — dipping into the sun’s upper atmosphere, or corona — are planned over the next seven years. The gap will eventually shrink to 3.8 million miles.

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