Mercury-bound spacecraft whizzes past the smallest planet for the 2nd time

  1. That's not how it works. The Parker Solar Probe had to slow down to get closer to the sun. It's the fastest if you measure it against earth, but if you measure relative to the rest of the solar system it's moving much slower than earth. It's exactly the same principle as for satellites around earth. To go higher they point their engines "forward" to speed up, to go lower they point them "backward".

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