This is a simple model of how a gravitational assist (also known as a gravitational slingshot) works. The Parker Solar Probe, for instance, is going to interact with Venus seven times, each time increasing its speed and modifying its orbit. This will gradually bring the probe into an orbit that takes it extremely close to the Sun.
The probe is shown in red, moving to the right with a modest speed, denoted by the green arrow (the blue arrow represents the acceleration). Venus is moving toward the top of the screen, at about 35 km per second. The probe gets dragged along with Venus for a short time - note how this changes the path of the probe and significantly increases its speed.
Simulation first posted on 8-16-2018. Written by Andrew Duffy
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