See the Photos That Taught Us About Saturn’s Rings

Nov. 24, 1980

I t was 35 years ago, on Nov. 12, 1980, that NASA’s Voyager 1 got as close to Saturn as it would in the course of its years-long mission. In the process, the probe—which had been launched about three years earlier—provided humankind with stunning image of the planet, as well as its rings and moons.

In all the centuries of staring out into space that had come before, sky-gazers had not been able to decipher many of the mysteries of the far-away planet. How many moons did the planet have? Not three, it turned out, but at least 15. And how many rings were there? Astronomers had long thought the answer was six, but suddenly it appeared that there were 1,000 of them, as TIME reported in a cover story the following week:

As more pictures came in, Saturn’s many-splendored rings began looking more and more like grooves in a celestial gold record. Even the Cassini division, a dark area first noticed three centuries ago and once thought to be the only gap in an otherwise solid surface, suddenly showed rings within it. At least two other rings were spotted slightly off center, like wobbly wheels on an old car, a curious and as yet inexplicable quirk. To complicate matters, near the outer edge of Saturn’s phonograph disc, the F-ring shows sinewy strands of material that look as if they had been twisted into braiding. Equally perplexing, spokes seem to form in some regions of the rings as the material whirls out from the planet’s shadow. Such aggregations of particles–apparently very tiny ones, judging from the way they reflect sunlight–should be quickly ripped apart, like a spoonful of sugar being stirred in a-cup of coffee. Yet somehow the spokes survive for hours at a time, almost as if they were intentionally setting out to destroy scientific theories about the rings. Says University of Arizona Astronomer Bradford Smith, chief of Voyager’s photo-interpretation team: “Those spokes are giving us nightmares!”

“We have learned more about the Saturn system in the past week,” one scientist noted at the time, “than in the entire span of recorded history.

Read the full Saturn cover story, here in the TIME Vault: Encounter in Space

Nov. 24, 1980

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Write to Lily Rothman at [email protected]

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NASA's Voyager probes have been traveling through space for nearly 46 years. Here are 18 groundbreaking photos from their incredible mission.

  • Nearly 46 years after their launch, Voyager 1 and 2 will likely soon reach the end of their scientific mission . 
  • NASA recently lost contact with Voyager 2 after sending it a bad command by mistake. 
  • Here are 18 pictures the probes took over the course of their forty-plus-year journey. 

Insider Today

The Voyager probes are pioneers of science, making it farther into space than any other manufactured object. But now, they face a terminal problem: their power is running out.

The twin probes were originally sent on a four-year mission to tour the solar system, but they exceeded all expectations and are still going nearly 46 years later. That makes them NASA's longest-lived mission.

Scientists are now doing their best to  keep the probes going for as long as possible. They recently found a clever hack to extend Voyager 2's life for another three years and plan to do the same with Voyager 1.

But these are old machines and NASA is constantly scrambling to fix mistakes. Last year, Voyager 1 started sending garbled data from the outside of the solar system. NASA ultimately figured out one of its computers had gone dead.

Voyager 2 is now in limbo , as the agency revealed Friday it had lost contact with the probe when someone sent a wrong command. It could be the end of Voyager 2's mission if NASA can't fix the mistake, which the agency probably won't be able to do before October.

As the probes are nearing the end of their scientific mission, here are 18 images from Voyager that changed science.

The Voyager probes were designed to visit Jupiter and Saturn.

voyager 1 saturn photos

The Voyager mission included two probes — Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 — which NASA launched in 1977 within a few months of each other.

NASA took advantage of a rare planet alignment to turbocharge their journeys into space.

NASA originally built the probes to last five years, but they have exceeded that lifespan many times .

As of August 20 and September 5, 2023, Voyager 2 and Voyager 1 will have been traveling for 46 years, respectively. 

This is what Voyager 1 saw on its approach to Jupiter.

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Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 reached Jupiter in 1979.

As they flew by the planet, they took about 50,000 pictures of Jupiter. These blew away scientists, as the quality of the pictures was much better than those taken from Earth, according to NASA.

These snaps  taught scientists important facts about the planet's atmosphere, magnetic forces, and geology that would have been difficult to decipher otherwise.

The probes discovered two new moons orbiting Jupiter: Thebe and Metis.

voyager 1 saturn photos

They also spotted a thin ring around Jupiter.

voyager 1 saturn photos

The probe captured this picture as it was looking back at the planet backlit by the Sun. 

Voyager 1 discovered volcanoes at the surface of Io, one of Jupiter's moons.

voyager 1 saturn photos

Next stop: Saturn.

voyager 1 saturn photos

In 1980 and 1981, the probes reached Saturn . The flyby gave scientists unprecedented insight into the planet's ring structure, atmosphere, and moons.

Voyager snapped Saturn's rings in more detail than ever before.

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And showed every secret that Enceladus, Saturn's moon, had to offer.

voyager 1 saturn photos

Saturn, snapped as the probe flew away, was shown in a new light.

voyager 1 saturn photos

By 1986, Voyager 2 had made it to Uranus.

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By 1986, Voyager 1 has finished its grand tour of the solar system, and few out towards space. But Voyager 2 kept on its exploring our nearest planets, passing 50,600 miles away from Uranus in January 1986. 

Voyager 2 discovered two extra rings around Uranus , revealing the planet had at least 11, not 9. 

Voyager 2 also spotted 11 previously unseen moons around Uranus.

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Here is a picture of Miranda, Uranus's sixth-biggest moon.

Voyager 2 was the first spacecraft to observe Neptune from a close distance.

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In 1989, 12 years after its launch, Voyager 2 passed within 3,000 miles of Neptune. 

Here's Nepture taken by Voyager 2, in all its blue glory.

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Voyager 2 took this unflattering pic of Triton's rough face.

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It captured Triton, Neptune's moon in unprecedented detail. 

And snapped Triton's southern hemisphere.

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As it flew by, Voyager 2 uncovered Neptune's rings.

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As its parting gift, Voyager 2 took this beautiful picture of light grazing Neptune's south pole.

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This is Voyager 2's last picture. Since it wouldn't come across another planet on its ongoing journey, NASA switched off its cameras after its flyby of Neptune to conserve energy for other instruments. 

Voyager 1 had one last trick up its sleeve.

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As its last photographic hurrah in 1990, Voyager 1 took 60 images of the solar system from 4 billion miles away.

It gave us the Earth's longest selfie, dubbed the "pale blue dot."

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This remains the longest-range selfie: a portrait of the Earth taken by a human-made probe from 4 billion miles away. 

After this picture, NASA switched off Voyager 1's cameras to save energy. NASA could switch the probes' cameras back on , but it is not a priority for the mission. 

Beyond the solar system

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Though the probes are no longer sending pictures, they haven't stopped sending crucial information about space. 

In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first human-made instrument to cross into interstellar space by crossing the boundary between our solar system and the rest of the universe, called the heliopause. 

Voyager 2 was second, crossing that threshold in 2018 . The probe revealed that there was yet another  layer outside of our heliosphere.

The probes keep sending back measurements from interstellar space, like weird hums likely coming from vibrations made by neighboring stars.

Even after their instruments are switched off, the probes' mission continues.

voyager 1 saturn photos

NASA is planning to switch more of the probes' instruments in the hope of extending their life to the 2030s.

But even after all their instruments become quiet, their mission will carry on. As they drift off, they will still be carrying a golden record that carries crucial information about humanity. If intelligent extraterrestrial life exists, they could use that information to reach out to us.

This article was originally published on June 6, 2022, and is being updated with the latest developments about Voyager 1 and 2. 

voyager 1 saturn photos

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45 years ago: voyager 1 begins its epic journey to the outer planets and beyond, johnson space center.

Forty-five years ago, the Voyager 1 spacecraft began an epic journey that continues to this day. The second of a pair of spacecraft, Voyager 1 lifted off on Sept. 5, 1977, 16 days after its twin left on a similar voyage. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, managed the two spacecraft on their missions to explore the outer planets. Taking advantage of a rare planetary alignment to use the gravity of one planet to redirect the spacecraft to the next, the Voyagers planned to use Jupiter’s gravity to send them on to explore Saturn and its large moon Titan. They carried sophisticated instruments to conduct their in-depth explorations of the giant planets. Both spacecraft continue to return data as they make their way out of our solar system and enter interstellar space.

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In the 1960s, mission designers at JPL noted that the next occurrence of a once-every-175-year alignment of the outer planets would happen in the late 1970s. A spacecraft could take advantage of this opportunity to fly by Jupiter and use its gravity to bend its trajectory to visit Saturn, and repeat the process to also visit Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Launching several missions to visit each planet individually would take much longer and cost much more. The original plan to send two pairs of Thermoelectric Outer Planet Spacecraft on these Grand Tours proved too costly leading to its cancellation in 1971. The next year, NASA approved a scaled-down version of the project to send a pair of Mariner-class spacecraft in 1977 to explore just Jupiter and Saturn, with an expected five-year operational life. On March 7, 1977, NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher announced the renaming of these Mariner Jupiter/Saturn 1977 spacecraft as Voyager 1 and 2. Scientists held out hope that one of them could ultimately visit Uranus and Neptune, thereby fulfilling most of the original Grand Tour’s objectives – Pluto would have to wait several decades for its first visit.

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Each Voyager carried a suite of 11 instruments to study the planets during each encounter and to learn more about interplanetary space in the outer reaches of the solar system, including: 

  • An imaging science system consisting of narrow-angle and wide-angle cameras to photograph the planet and its satellites.
  • A radio science system to determine the planet’s physical properties.
  • An infrared interferometer spectrometer to investigate local and global energy balance and atmospheric composition.
  • An ultraviolet spectrometer to measure atmospheric properties.
  • A magnetometer to analyze the planet’s magnetic field and interaction with the solar wind.
  • A plasma spectrometer to investigate microscopic properties of plasma ions.
  • A low-energy charged particle device to measure fluxes and distributions of ions.
  • A cosmic ray detection system to determine the origin and behavior of cosmic radiation.
  • A planetary radio astronomy investigation to study radio emissions from Jupiter.
  • A photopolarimeter to measure the planet’s surface composition.
  • A plasma wave system to study the planet’s magnetosphere.

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Voyager 1 lifted off on Sept. 5, 1977, atop a Titan IIIE-Centaur rocket from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, now Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, in Florida. Two weeks after its launch, from a distance of 7.25 million miles, Voyager 1 turned its camera back toward its home planet and took the first single-frame image of the Earth-Moon system. The spacecraft successfully crossed the asteroid belt between Dec. 10, 1977, and Sept. 8, 1978.

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Although Voyager 1 launched two weeks after its twin, it traveled on a faster trajectory and arrived at Jupiter four months earlier. Voyager 1 conducted its observations of Jupiter between Jan. 6 and April 13, 1979, making its closest approach of 216,837 miles from the planet’s center on March 5. The spacecraft returned 19,000 images of the giant planet, many of Jupiter’s satellites, and confirmed the presence of a thin ring encircling it. Its other instruments returned information about Jupiter’s atmosphere and magnetic field. Jupiter’s massive gravity field bent the spacecraft’s trajectory and accelerated it toward Saturn.

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Voyager 1 began its long-range observations of Saturn on Aug. 22, 1980, passed within 114,500 miles of the planet’s center on Nov. 12, and concluded its studies on Dec. 14. Because of its interest to scientists, mission planners chose the spacecraft’s trajectory to make a close flyby of Saturn’s largest moon Titan – the only planetary satellite with a dense atmosphere – just before the closest approach to the planet itself. This trajectory, passing over Saturn’s south pole and bending north over the plane of the ecliptic, precluded Voyager 1 from making any additional planetary encounters. The spacecraft flew 4,033 miles from Titan’s center, returning images of its unbroken orange atmosphere and high-altitude blue haze layer. During the encounter, Voyager 1 returned 16,000 photographs, imaging Saturn, its rings, many of its known satellites and discovering several new ones, while its instruments returned data about Saturn’s atmosphere and magnetic field.

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On Feb. 14, 1990, more than 12 years after it began its journey from Earth and shortly before controllers  permanently turned off its cameras to conserve power, Voyager 1 spun around and pointed them back into the solar system. In a mosaic of 60 images, it captured a “family portrait” of six of the solar system’s planets, including a pale blue dot called Earth more than 3.7 billion miles away. Fittingly, these were the last pictures returned from either Voyager spacecraft. On Feb. 17, 1998, Voyager 1 became the most distant human-made object, overtaking the Pioneer 10 spacecraft on their way out of the solar system. In February 2020, to commemorate the photograph’s 30th anniversary, NASA released a remastered version of the image of Earth as Pale Blue Dot Revisited .

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On New Year’s Day 1990, both spacecraft officially began the Voyager Interstellar Mission as they inexorably made their escape from our solar system. On Aug. 25, 2012, Voyager 1 passed beyond the heliopause, the boundary between the heliosphere, the bubble-like region of space created by the Sun, and the interstellar medium. Its twin followed suit six years later. Today , 45 years after its launch and 14.6 billion miles from Earth, four of Voyager 1’s 11 instruments continue to return useful data, having now spent 10 years in interstellar space. Signals from the spacecraft take nearly 22 hours to reach Earth, and 22 hours for Earth-based signals to reach the spacecraft. Engineers expect that the spacecraft will continue to return data from interstellar space until about 2025 when it will no longer be able to power its systems. And just in case an alien intelligence finds it one day, Voyager 1 like its twin carries a gold-plated record that contains information about its home planet, including recordings of terrestrial sounds, music, and greetings in 55 languages. Engineers at NASA thoughtfully included Instructions on how to play the record.

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The voyage continues…

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When Voyager gave us the first close-up pictures of Saturn’s rings

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For centuries, astronomers using telescopes spied a ring of material circling the planet’s equator. Pinpricks of light, the planet’s moons, floated nearby. Technical advances led to better views, until scientists could see gaps or divisions in the material ringing Saturn. They also saw oddities on its moons: One seemed to hold a methane atmosphere laced with clouds, while another was two-faced, bright on one half but dark as asphalt on the other.

But it would take Voyager 1 and 2, a pair of visiting spacecraft, to fully reveal the beautiful and intriguing ringed world and its equally fascinating system of moons. The planet hosts a wide array of astronomical processes and structures, and the Voyager probes were the first to show scientists how incredible the Saturn system truly is. The system they uncovered was too intriguing not to revisit, laying the foundation for the groundbreaking Cassini mission decades later.

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The twin Voyager spacecraft launched 16 days apart in 1977, beginning their Grand Tour of the outer solar system. They took separate journeys to the ringed planet and its diverse moons. Voyager 1 arrived in November 1980, and afterward used the planet’s gravity to slingshot itself out of the solar system’s plane. Voyager 2 swung through in August 1981, continuing on to Uranus and Neptune.

The pair of probes revealed many unexpected details about the Saturn system, but Voyager 1 was not the first mission to snap an up-close view of the planet. That title belongs to Pioneer 11, which flew by the ringed world in 1979. Its photographs, combined with ground-based detections, helped planetary scientists better plan the Voyagers’ Saturn flyby routes, as well as choose which targets to focus on.

Each closest approach was a quick encounter — after all, the probes were traveling faster than 9 miles per second (15 km/s). But the mission team began collecting detailed observations of each target weeks in advance. And for the two weeks surrounding each nearest encounter of Saturn, all the science teams would converge at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for an intense observing session.

Remarkable features of the rings  

Before Voyager arrived at Saturn, scientists knew of two empty paths splitting Saturn’s rings: the Cassini Division and the Encke Gap. But based on observations from both Pioneer and ground-based telescopes, “we thought we would find bland, featureless sheets of material separated by gaps,” says Linda Spilker, who studied the rings as part of the Voyager team and is now the Cassini project scientist. Instead, the twin spacecraft revealed the rings are anything but bland.

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As Voyager 1 neared closest approach and the resolution improved, the team could make out more details. “It looked like grooves on a phonograph record,” says Spilker of the rings. Hundreds of concentric rings circled Saturn. Scientists saw waves along the edges of gaps between those rings, as well as braided features and spiral structures within the rings — all due to the gravitational influence of small moons embedded in and sitting just outside of the rings. They even saw patterns that looked like propeller wings spiraling out from moonlets, showing how large boulders clear material along gaps in their orbit. Studying the behavior of moonlets in a “debris disk” such as Saturn’s rings has allowed scientists to indirectly study how planets form around stars in protostellar disks. “The rings were just so much more than I had imagined,” adds Spilker.

But it wasn’t just the beautiful images of the photogenic ring system that surprised scientists. When Voyager 2 approached Saturn in August, it observed starlight from Delta Scorpii as the rings passed in between that background star and the spacecraft. Called an occultation, this filtered view allowed researchers to see even finer details in the rings. In fact, they saw the particles in the rings with a resolution 10 to 20 times better than by just photographing the rings directly.

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With those data, scientists could estimate the thickness at the edge of each ring: between 33 and 656 feet (10–200m). They saw smaller structures in the rings: clumps, twists, and waves — all due to the gravity of Saturn’s satellites. That occultation using Delta Scorpii was one of the most crucial observations Voyager made at Saturn. And with only one such event, the data was extremely precious, says Spilker.

What a difference a generation of technology design makes: Today, scientists have hundreds of occultation observations from the Cassini spacecraft, which studied the Saturn system from 2004 until September of this year. Cassini’s 13 years of observations provided answers about how the moons and Saturn itself shape the rings.

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Before either Voyager arrived at Saturn, most of the planet’s moons were no more than pinpricks of light. Ground-based telescopes couldn’t resolve their surfaces, so scientists had little information about the immense variation these worlds hold.

First up was Titan, the planet’s largest moon. Voyager 1 made its closest approach to the orange sphere in the late hours of November 11, 1980, when it flew less than 310,000 miles (500,000km) from the moon. Scientists hoped to see through the thick atmosphere to learn about the surface, but Titan’s mysteries weren’t so easy to solve. The visible and infrared cameras could not penetrate the clouds. Fortunately, researchers could get a radio signal to the surface and back, and used it to calculate the atmosphere’s density: 1.6 times that of Earth.

During the analysis of the radio data, a hushed rumor spread among the dozens of Voyager scientists stationed at JPL, recalls planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, that liquid nitrogen might exist on the surface of Titan. “It turned out the initial analysis was incorrect,” she says. “But I’ll never forget the indescribable thrill of hearing that rumor. It felt, for a moment, like all of us . . . were crewmates on the starship Enterprise, and we had just come upon the most alien of worlds yet seen. We were indeed planetary explorers.” Porco later explored the Saturnian system as a member of the Cassini team.

What Voyager did reveal of Titan, though — knowledge of its atmosphere’s density and composition, the possibility of hydrocarbons perhaps in liquid form at the surface — made Titan even more intriguing for further study. In fact, says Spilker, “it was really the Voyager flyby of Titan, and what we learned and what we didn’t learn, that led to this strong desire to go back.” And ultimately, it was that flyby that sparked the Cassini mission.

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Observations from Earth of a ring around Saturn at the distance of Enceladus’ orbit already hinted that perhaps that small moon somehow feeds the ring. Could there be ice volcanoes on Enceladus, providing the sloshy material that would fill in impact craters? If so, some of that gushing material perhaps could escape the surface and orbit Saturn as part of the E ring. Those first detailed observations from Voyager triggered an ongoing fascination with this small, reflective moon, adds Ingersoll.

Scientists now know from the Cassini mission that an underground water ocean feeds geysers at Enceladus’ south pole. They’ve also discovered likely hydrothermal activity at the ocean floor. On Earth, biological ecosystems thrive in such environments. Could they do the same on Enceladus? That’s a question a future dedicated mission to the small moon might answer.

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Scientists didn’t send Voyager to Saturn to study only its rings and moons. The planet and its atmosphere were also a science focus. Like that of its sister giant planet, Jupiter, Saturn’s atmosphere hosts incredible storms and enormous jet streams, and the Voyager twins were the first spacecraft to photograph the details in those cloud tops up close.

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And then there are Saturn’s winds themselves. “I remember being amazed at how fast the winds were blowing,” recalls Ingersoll — although how fast isn’t actually known yet. That’s because scientists don’t have a reference against which to measure the wind speeds, explains Ingersoll, who has studied planetary atmospheres for decades. “On Earth, we measure the wind relative to the continents,” explains Ingersoll, and Saturn, of course, doesn’t have any continents. But if scientists could measure how fast the planet’s solid core rotates, that speed would serve as the reference.

To get at that rotation rate for a giant planet, researchers track the planet’s magnetic field, which is produced in the solid core. On Jupiter, the magnetic field’s axis is tilted in relation to the rotation axis, which means as the core rotates, the magnetic field wobbles. “You see the magnetic field wobble back and forth like a . . . top, and so that tells you how fast the interior of the planet is rotating,” says Ingersoll. Unfortunately, Saturn’s magnetic field axis and rotation axis are too similar to produce a measurable wobble on the Voyagers’ instruments. But in its final mission phase, skimming just above the cloud tops, Cassini may finally get close enough to the planet to better track the wobble.

On September 15, Cassini will end its study of Saturn, closing the door on up-close observations of the ringed planet, just like Voyager’s departure in 1981. Both missions have answered long-standing questions about the ringed world and its system, as well as introduced new mysteries for future spacecraft to resolve.

This world holds beautiful rings that mimic some characteristics of disks around young stars, intense atmospheric storms, and a variety of moons — including one with an Earth-like weather system and another with the ingredients of a habitable environment. “The study of Saturn has provided scientists the means to study processes that are at work all across our solar system and scale-invariant across the cosmos,” says Porco. “No other planet can claim as much.”

Because of Voyager 1 and 2, we know why the Saturn system continues to tempt planetary explorers.

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voyager 1 saturn photos

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Found: An Earth-sized exoplanet named SPECULOOS-3 b

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Where are they now.

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Saturn approach.

Three Voyager 2 images, taken through ultraviolet and green filters.

The Voyager 1 and 2 Saturn encounters occurred nine months apart, in November 1980 and August 1981. Voyager 1 is leaving the solar system. Voyager 2 completed its encounter with Uranus in January 1986 and with Neptune in August 1989, and is now also en route out of the solar system.

The two Saturn encounters increased our knowledge and altered our understanding of Saturn. The extended, close-range observations provided high-resolution data far different from the picture assembled during centuries of Earth-based studies.

Here is a summary of scientific findings by the two Voyagers at Saturn: SATURN Saturn's atmosphere is almost entirely hydrogen and helium. Voyager 1 found that about 7 percent of the volume of Saturn's upper atmosphere is helium (compared with 11 percent of Jupiter's atmosphere), while almost all the rest is hydrogen. Since Saturn's internal helium abundance was expected to be the same as Jupiter's and the Sun's, the lower abundance of helium in the upper atmosphere may imply that the heavier helium may be slowly sinking through Saturn's hydrogen; that might explain the excess heat that Saturn radiates over energy it receives from the Sun. (Saturn is the only planet less dense than water. In the unlikely event that a lake could be found large enough, Saturn would float in it.)

Subdued contrasts and color differences on Saturn could be a result of more horizontal mixing or less production of localized colors than in Jupiter's atmosphere. While Voyager 1 saw few markings, Voyager 2's more sensitive cameras saw many: Long-lived ovals, tilted features in east-west shear zones, and others similar to, but generally smaller than, on Jupiter.

Winds blow at high speeds in Saturn. Near the equator, the Voyagers measured winds about 500 meters a second (1,100 miles an hour). The wind blows mostly in an easterly direction. Strongest winds are found near the equator, and velocity falls off uniformly at higher latitudes. At latitudes greater than 35 degrees, winds alternate east and west as latitude increases. Marked dominance of eastward jet streams indicates that winds are not confined to the cloud layer, but must extend inward at least 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles). Furthermore, measurements by Voyager 2 showing a striking north-south symmetry that leads some scientists to suggest the winds may extend from north to south through the interior of the planet.

While Voyager 2 was behind Saturn, its radio beam penetrated the upper atmosphere, and measured temperature and density. Minimum temperatures of 82 Kelvins (-312 degrees Fahrenheit) were found at the 70-millibar level (surface pressure on Earth is 1,000 millibars). The temperature increased to 143 Kelvins (-202 degrees Fahrenheit) at the deepest levels probed - - about 1,200 millibars. Near the north pole temperatures were about 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) colder at 100 millibars than at mid-latitudes. The difference may be seasonal.

The Voyagers found aurora-like ultraviolet emissions of hydrogen at mid-latitudes in the atmosphere, and auroras at polar latitudes (above 65 degrees). The high-level auroral activity may lead to formation of complex hydrocarbon molecules that are carried toward the equator. The mid-latitude auroras, which occur only in sunlit regions, remain a puzzle, since bombardment by electrons and ions, known to cause auroras on Earth, occurs primarily at high latitudes.

Both Voyagers measured the rotation of Saturn (the length of a day) at 10 hours, 39 minutes, 24 seconds.

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Rae Paoletta • Mar 03, 2022

The best space pictures from the Voyager 1 and 2 missions

Launched in 1977, NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 missions provided an unprecedented glimpse into the outer solar system — a liminal space once left largely to the imagination. The spacecraft provided views of worlds we’d never seen before, and in some cases, haven’t seen much of since.

The Voyager probes were launched about two weeks apart and had different trajectories, like two tour guides at the same museum. Only Voyager 2 visited the ice giants — Uranus and Neptune — for example.

The Voyagers hold a unique position in the pantheon of space history because they’re still making it; even right now, Voyagers 1 and 2 are the only functioning spacecraft in interstellar space. Both hold a Golden Record that contains sights and sounds of Earth in case alien life were to find one of the spacecraft.

As the Voyager missions voyage on, it’s good to look back at how they captured our solar system before leaving it.

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Pale Blue Dot at 30: Voyager 1's iconic photo of Earth from space reveals our place in the universe

The photo shows Earth as it truly is — a lonely outpost of life in an incomprehensibly vast cosmos.

NASA released this updated version of Voyager 1's famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth on Feb. 13, 2020. The original was taken 30 years earlier, on Feb. 14, 1990.

Thirty years ago today, humanity got a chance to see itself in a whole new light. 

On Feb. 14, 1990, NASA's Voyager 1 probe snapped a photo of Earth from 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) away. The image shows our home planet as it truly is — a tiny, lonely outpost of life in an incomprehensibly vast cosmos — and became iconic as a result. 

The Voyager 1 team sensed at the time that the " Pale Blue Dot ," as the photo has come to be known, would be an important social document, said planetary scientist Candy Hansen, who served as the experiment representative for the Voyager imaging team and was the first person to set eyes on the Pale Blue Dot photo when it came down to Earth.

Related: Voyager at 40: 40 photos from NASA's epic 'Grand Tour' mission

The Cold War had not yet thawed completely in early 1990. The Pale Blue Dot had the potential to remind folks around the world that we're all in this together, no matter how many nuclear warheads one superpower may be aiming at another, Hansen explained. And the image remains vital today, because its message is timeless, she added.

"Now, we have climate change as an existential threat," Hansen, who now works for the Arizona-based Planetary Science Institute, told Space.com. "And we need to remind ourselves again that there's one planet that is hospitable to humans. Even if we colonize the moon or Mars one day, neither one of those bodies is really going to be able to support seven billion of us. So, we need to take care of this planet."

A family portrait

The

Voyager 1 launched a few weeks after its twin, Voyager 2 , back in 1977. Together, the two probes conducted an unprecedented "grand tour" of the solar system's giant planets, flying by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. 

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The tour was over after the Neptune encounter, which Voyager 2 executed in August 1989. But the two spacecraft kept on flying, out toward the great unknown of interstellar space. Mission team members decided to turn off the two probes' cameras to save precious power during the long journey (and because they probably wouldn't have many chances to photograph interesting things out beyond Neptune anyway).

But Voyager 1 turned around to take one last look at home before closing its eyes. And not just its home planet — its home system. The probe took a "family portrait" series of 60 photos, capturing the sun, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in addition to Earth. (Mercury was too close to the sun to be imaged, and sunlight bouncing around in the camera blocked Mars out.)

The Pale Blue Dot was the brainchild of famed astronomer, science communicator and Voyager imaging team member Carl Sagan , who first proposed snapping Earth with Voyager cameras in 1981 . And Sagan helped popularize the image and its message after the fact, writing a book called "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space" (Random House, 1994). 

Earth was one of the last things Voyager 1 saw. The probe took the Pale Blue Dot photo at 0448 GMT on Feb. 14, 1990, just 34 minutes before its cameras were shut off forever. (The very last photos Voyager 1 took, however, were of the sun, Hansen said.)

An artist's illustration showing where Voyager 1 and the planets were when the spacecraft took the iconic "Pale Blue Dot" image.

All of the image data didn't come down to Earth until May 1, 1990, NASA officials wrote in a Pale Blue Dot explainer . Hansen couldn't wait to see our planet through Voyager 1's eyes — and, when she finally got the chance, doing so proved a bit more difficult than she had expected.

"It was actually kind of terrifying, because I didn't see it at first," she said. "Because of that beam of scattered light, it didn't pop out at me immediately. And then I was so afraid that we had missed it, or screwed up the exposure or something. So, it was such a relief when I spotted it."

That beam of scattered light may have briefly stopped Hansen's heart, but it adds a certain poetic flair to the Pale Blue Dot photo. It's almost as if the cosmos threw a spotlight onto our precious little world for a moment, to help us make it out in the abyss.

Related: Earth quiz: Do you really know your planet?

Still exploring

Both Voyagers kept flying long after February 1990. They cruised through the outer solar system and eventually popped free of the sun's sphere of influence into interstellar space.

Voyager 1 accomplished this unprecedented feat in 2012 , and its twin followed suit six years later. And both probes are still going strong. They should have enough power left to continue gathering data about their exotic surroundings through 2024 or so, mission team members have said.

The Voyager program has accomplished amazing things, shedding considerable light on the giant planets and the dark realms far beyond them. (Voyager 2, for example, is still the only spacecraft ever to get up-close looks at Uranus or Neptune.) And the Pale Blue Dot is a unique part of this diverse and layered legacy.

"The Earth picture reaches to our hearts, I would say, and all the rest goes in our heads," Hansen said.

  • Photos from NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 probes  
  • Voyager 1's historic flyby of Jupiter in photos  
  • Voyager 1 spacecraft's road to interstellar space: A photo timeline

Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, " Out There " (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate ), is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook . 

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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with  Space.com  and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

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voyager 1 saturn photos

Things are finally looking up for the Voyager 1 interstellar spacecraft

Two of the four science instruments aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft are now returning usable data after months of transmitting only gibberish, NASA scientists have announced.

Voyager 1

I was once sitting with my father while Googling how far away various things in the solar system are from Earth. He was looking for exact numbers, and very obviously grew more invested with each new figure I shouted out. I was thrilled. The moon? On average, 238,855 miles (384,400 kilometers) away. The James Webb Space Telescope ? Bump that up to about a million miles (1,609,344 km) away. The sun? 93 million miles (149,668,992 km) away.  Neptune ? 2.8  billion  miles (4.5 billion km) away. "Well, wait until you hear about Voyager 1," I eventually said, assuming he was aware of what was coming. He was not.

"NASA's  Voyager 1  interstellar spacecraft actually isn't even in the solar system anymore," I announced. "Nope, it's more than 15 billion miles (24 billion km)  away from us  — and it's getting even farther as we speak." I can't quite remember his response, but I do indeed recall an expression of sheer disbelief. There were immediate inquiries about how that's even physically possible. There were bewildered laughs, different ways of saying "wow," and mostly, there was a contagious sense of awe. And just like that, a new Voyager 1 fan was born.

It is easy to see why Voyager 1 is among the most beloved robotic space explorers we have — and it is thus easy to understand why so many people felt a pang to their hearts several months ago, when Voyager 1 stopped talking to us.

Related:  After months of sending gibberish to NASA, Voyager 1 is finally making sense again

For reasons unknown at the time, this spacecraft began sending back gibberish in place of the neatly organized and data-rich 0's and 1's it had been providing since its  launch in 1977 . It was this classic computer language which allowed Voyager 1 to converse with its creators while earning the title of "farthest human made object." It's how the spacecraft relayed vital insight that led to the discovery of new Jovian moons and, thanks to this sort of binary podcast, scientists incredibly identified a new ring of Saturn and created the solar system's first and only "family portrait." This code, in essence, is crucial to Voyager 1's very being.

Plus, to make matters worse, the issue behind the glitch turned out to be associated with the craft's Flight Data System, which is literally the system that transmits information about Voyager 1's health so scientists can correct any issues that arise. Issues like this one. Furthermore, because of the spacecraft's immense distance from its operators on Earth, it takes about 22.5 hours for a transmission to reach the spacecraft, and then 22.5 hours to receive a transmission back. Alas, things weren't looking good for a while — for about five months, to be precise.

But then, on April 20, Voyager 1  finally phoned home  with legible 0's and legible 1's.

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Earth as a

"The team had gathered early on a weekend morning to see whether telemetry would return," Bob Rasmussen, a member of the Voyager flight team, told Space.com. "It was nice to have everyone assembled in one place like this to share in the moment of learning that our efforts had been successful. Our cheer was both for the intrepid spacecraft and for the comradery that enabled its recovery."

And  then,  on May 22 , Voyager scientists released the welcome announcement that the spacecraft has successfully resumed returning science data from two of its four instruments, the plasma wave subsystem and magnetometer instrument. They're now working on getting the other two, the cosmic ray subsystem and low energy charged particle instrument, back online as well. Though there technically are six other instruments onboard Voyager, those had been out of commission for some time.

The comeback

Rasmussen was actually a member of the Voyager team in the 1970s, having worked on the project as a computer engineer before leaving for other missions including  Cassini , which launched the spacecraft that taught us almost everything we currently know about Saturn. In 2022, however, he returned to Voyager because of a separate dilemma with the mission — and has remained on the team ever since.

"There are many of the original people who were there when Voyager launched, or even before, who were part of both the flight team and the science team," Linda Spilker, a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory , who also worked on the Voyager mission, told Space.com in the This Week from Space podcast on the TWiT network. "It's a real tribute to Voyager — the longevity not only of the spacecraft, but of the people on the team."

To get Voyager 1 back online, in rather cinematic fashion, the team devised a complex workaround that prompted the FDS to send a copy of its memory back to Earth. Within that memory readout, operators managed to discover the crux of the problem — a corrupted code spanning a single chip — which was then remedied through another (honestly,  super interesting ) process to modify the code. On the day Voyager 1 finally spoke again, "you could have heard a pin drop in the room," Spilker said. "It was very silent. Everybody's looking at the screen, waiting and watching." 

The rocket that launched Voyager 1 in 1977.

Of course, Spilker also brought in some peanuts for the team to munch on — but not just any peanuts. Lucky peanuts. 

It's a longstanding tradition at JPL to have a peanut feast before major mission events like launches, milestones and, well, the possible resurrection of Voyager 1. It  began  in the 1960s, when the agency was trying to launch the Ranger 7 mission that was meant to take pictures of and collect data about the moon's surface. Rangers 1 through 6 had all failed, so Ranger 7 was a big deal. As such, the mission's trajectory engineer, Dick Wallace, brought lots of peanuts for the team to nibble on and relax. Sure enough, Ranger 7 was a success and, as Wallace once said, "the rest is history." 

Voyager 1 needed some of those positive snacky vibes. 

"It'd been five months since we'd had any information," Spilker explained. So, in this room of silence besides peanut-eating-noises, Voyager 1 operators sat at their respective system screens, waiting. 

"All of a sudden it started to populate — the data," Spilker said. That's when the programmers who had been staring at those screens in anticipation leapt out of their seats and began to cheer: "They were the happiest people in the room, I think, and there was just a sense of joy that we had Voyager 1 back."

flight team of voyager 1

Eventually, Rasmussen says the team was able to conclude that the failure probably occurred due to a combination of aging and radiation damage by which energetic particles in space bombarded the craft. This is also why he believes it wouldn't be terribly surprising to see a similar failure occur in the future, seeing as Voyager 1 is still roaming beyond the distant boundaries of our stellar neighborhood just like its spacecraft twin,  Voyager 2 .

To be sure, the spacecraft isn't fully fixed yet — but it's lovely to know things are finally looking up, especially with the recent news that some of its science instruments are back on track. And, at the very least, Rasmussen assures that nothing the team has learned so far has been alarming. "We're confident that we understand the problem well," he said, "and we remain optimistic about getting everything back to normal — but we also expect this won't be the last."

The trajectory of the Voyagers.

In fact, as Rasmussen explains, Voyager 1 operators first became optimistic about the situation just after the root cause of the glitch had been determined with certainty. He also emphasizes that the team's spirits were never down. "We knew from indirect evidence that we had a spacecraft that was mostly healthy," he said. "Saying goodbye was not on our minds."

"Rather," he continued, "we wanted to push toward a solution as quickly as possible so other matters on board that had been neglected for months could be addressed. We're now calmly moving toward that goal."

The future of Voyager's voyage

It can't be ignored that, over the last few months, there has been an air of anxiety and fear across the public sphere that Voyager 1 was slowly moving toward sending us its final 0 and final 1. Headlines all over the internet, one written by  myself included , have carried clear, negative weight. I think it's because even if Voyager 2 could technically carry the interstellar torch post-Voyager 1, the prospect of losing Voyager 1 felt like the prospect of losing a piece of history. 

"We've crossed this boundary called the heliopause," Spilker explained of the Voyagers. "Voyager 1 crossed this boundary in 2012; Voyager 2 crossed it in 2018 — and, since that time, were the first spacecraft ever to make direct measurements of the interstellar medium." That medium basically refers to material that fills the space between stars. In this case, that's the space between other stars and our sun, which, though we don't always think of it as one, is simply another star in the universe. A drop in the cosmic ocean.

"JPL started building the two Voyager spacecraft in 1972," Spilker explained. "For context, that was only three years after we had the first human walk on the moon — and the reason we started that early is that we had this rare alignment of the planets that happens once every  176 years ." It was this alignment that could promise the spacecraft checkpoints across the solar system, including at Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Those checkpoints were important for the Voyagers in particular. Alongside planetary visits come gravity assists, and gravity assists can help fling stuff within the solar system — and, now we know, beyond.

As the first humanmade object to leave the solar system, as a relic of America's early space program, and as a testament to how robust even decades-old technology can be, Voyager 1 has carved out the kind of legacy usually reserved for remarkable things lost to time.

The

"Our scientists are eager to see what they’ve been missing," Rasmussen remarked. "Everyone on the team is self-motivated by their commitment to this unique and important project. That's where the real pressure comes from." 

Still, in terms of energy, the team's approach has been clinical and determined. 

— NASA's Voyager 1 sends readable message to Earth after 4 nail-biting months of gibberish

— NASA engineers discover why Voyager 1 is sending a stream of gibberish from outside our solar system

— NASA's Voyager 1 probe hasn't 'spoken' in 3 months and needs a 'miracle' to save it

"No one was ever especially excited or depressed," he said. "We're confident that we can get back to business as usual soon, but we also know that we're dealing with an aging spacecraft that is bound to have trouble again in the future. That's just a fact of life on this mission, so not worth getting worked up about."

Nonetheless, I imagine it's always a delight for Voyager 1's engineers to remember this robotic explorer occupies curious minds around the globe. (Including my dad's mind now, thanks to me and Google.)

As Rasmussen puts it: "It's wonderful to know how much the world appreciates this mission."

Originally posted on Space.com .

Monisha Ravisetti is Space.com's Astronomy Editor. She covers black holes, star explosions, gravitational waves, exoplanet discoveries and other enigmas hidden across the fabric of space and time. Previously, she was a science writer at CNET, and before that, reported for The Academic Times. Prior to becoming a writer, she was an immunology researcher at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. She graduated from New York University in 2018 with a B.A. in philosophy, physics and chemistry. She spends too much time playing online chess. Her favorite planet is Earth.

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The Pale Blue Dot – Revisited

Earth as a small blue dot in a fuzzy beam of light.

The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of Earth taken Feb. 14, 1990, by NASA’s Voyager 1 at a distance of 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) from the Sun. The image inspired the title of scientist Carl Sagan's book, "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," in which he wrote: "Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us."

The revised image was processed by JPL engineer and image processing enthusiast Kevin M. Gill with input from two of the image's original planners, Candy Hansen and William Kosmann.

voyager 1 saturn photos

Original – Highest-Resolution (1990)

(tif) (4.32 MB)

voyager 1 saturn photos

Original (1990)

(jpg) (414.21 KB)

voyager 1 saturn photos

Pale Blue Dot Revisited (2020)

(tif) (29.85 MB)

voyager 1 saturn photos

5 iconic sci-fi celebrities you can meet in Birmingham

S targazers should be in their glory at Iron City Comic Con , a sci-fi and fantasy convention in Birmingham. The event, set for June 1-2 at the BJCC East Exhibit Hall, includes about 30 special guests from the worlds of “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” the “Scream” franchise, professional wrestling and more. Comic book artists, anime voice actors and cosplay experts are on the agenda, as well.

Here are five iconic celebs you won’t want to miss at the downtown con. They’ll be meeting fans, signing autographs and taking photos, pretty much all day long. Get your Sharpies ready!

Jonathan Frakes

Claim to fame: The actor and director, 71, is a beloved and enduring figure in the “Star Trek” universe. He made an indelible impression as William T. Riker, a Starfleet officer and the right hand of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, on the TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1987-1994). Frakes also appeared as Riker in five more “Star Trek” series — “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager,” “Enterprise,” “Picard” and “Lower Decks” — and three “Star Trek” movies. Riker showed up in a couple of “Star Trek” video games, as well.

Good to know: Frakes has a long list of credits as a director, including about 30 episodes of various “Star Trek” series and two “Trek” films. He earned two Saturn Awards in 2024, a lifetime achievement award with other cast members of “Star Trek: Next Generation” and the award for Best Supporting Actor in a TV Series for “Star Trek: Picard.”

Meet him, greet him: Frakes will be at his autograph booth on Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2. Prices are $60 per autograph, $50 per selfie, $75 for photo op (photo taken by Celeb Photo Ops , includes a print). Price is TBA for an autograph-selfie combo.

John de Lancie

Claim to fame: The actor, 76, is best known for his portrayal of Q, a powerful and mercurial being in the “Star Trek” realm. The popular character made its debut in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” prompting chaos and clashing with Capt. Jean-Luc Picard. De Lancie has popped up as Q on four other “Star Trek” series —“Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager,” “Lower Decks” and “Picard” — and a handful of “Star Trek” video games.

Good to know: De Lancie has a long list of movie and TV credits outside of the “Star Trek” world, including “The West Wing,” “Stargate SG-1″ and “Breaking Bad.” He’s been in demand as a voice actor, as well.

Meet him, greet him: De Lancie will be at his autograph booth on Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2. Prices are $60 per autograph, $50 per selfie, $100 for autograph-selfie combo, $75 for photo op (photo taken by Celeb Photo Ops , includes a print).

Michael Biehn

Claim to fame: The actor, 67, starred as Kyle Reese in 1984′s “The Terminator,” playing a solider who goes back in time to protect main character Sarah Connor. Bieh also was a key cast member of 1986′s “Aliens,” playing Cpl. Dwayne Hicks, an interstellar Marine who becomes the love interest of heroine Ellen Ripley. Biehn’s resume also includes roles in “The Mandalorian,” “The Walking Dead,” “Tombstone,” “The Abyss,” “Navy SEALs” and many other films and TV series .

Good to know: Biehn was born in Anniston. His family moved during his childhood; he grew up in Arizona and attended college there.

Meet him, greet him: Biehn will be at his autograph booth on Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2. Prices for autographs, selfies, combos and photo ops are TBA.

Claim to fame: The actor and stuntman , 49, is revered by “Star Wars” fans for his physical portrayal of Darth Maul, a villainous character who first appeared in “Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” The Sith lord returned for “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” (Voices for Darth Maul were provided by Peter Serafinowicz and Sam Witwer, respectively.)

Good to know: Park, a martial arts specialist, also has appeared in movies such as “X-Men,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Mortal Kombat Annihilation” and two “G.I. Joe” films. He portrayed Chuck Norris in the TV series “The Legend of Bruce Lee.”

Meet him, greet him: Park will be at his autograph booth on Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2. Prices are $80 per autograph, $80 per selfie, $105 for photo op (photo taken by Celeb Photo Ops , includes a print). Price is TBA for an autograph-selfie combo.

Jenette Goldstein

Claim to fame: The actress, 64, is best known for her portrayal of Pvt. Vasquez, a tough-as-nails solider in “Aliens,” fighting alongside Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver,) Cpl. Hicks (Michael Biehn), Pvt. Hudson (Bill Paxton), Pvt. Drake (Mark Rolston) and others. Goldstein won a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in James Cameron’s 1986 film.

Good to know: Goldstein’s movie and TV credits include roles in “Lethal Weapon 2,” “24,” “ER,” “Star Trek Generations” and more.

Meet her, greet her: Goldstein will be at her autograph booth on Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2. Prices for autographs, selfies, combos and photo ops are TBA.

Iron City Comic Con is scheduled for June 1-2 at the BJCC East Exhibit Hall, 2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North in Birmingham. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m- 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $25 daily, $40 for the weekend in advance. Prices at the door increase to $35 daily, $55 for the weekend. Members of the military will pay $20 daily, $35 for the weekend. Admission is free for kids age 10 and younger, with a limit of two children per paid adult ticket. The con includes vendors, panel discussions, gaming, cosplay, a costume contest and more. (See answers to FAQs here .) Along with the official website, Iron City Comic Con can be found on Facebook .

©2024 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit al.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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IMAGES

  1. 35th Anniversary of the Voyager 1 Saturn Flyby

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  2. Saturn as seen by Voyager 1

    voyager 1 saturn photos

  3. Saturn

    voyager 1 saturn photos

  4. Saturn

    voyager 1 saturn photos

  5. Voyager 1 Photo Of Saturn & Its Rings Photograph by Nasa

    voyager 1 saturn photos

  6. Quentin Geneste

    voyager 1 saturn photos

VIDEO

  1. VOYAGER 1 మరియు VOYAGER 2 ఉపగ్రహాల ప్రత్యేక ఆవిష్కరణలు |Voyager reached another solar system

  2. Saturn: The Crown Jewel of the Solar System

  3. Voyager 1 is not the first to cross Neptune Orbit !

  4. Voyager 1 Stuns NASA with Mysterious Encounter in Interstellar Space

  5. Story of Voyager 1

  6. Discovering Saturn Voyager One's Journey to the Ringed Planet

COMMENTS

  1. Voyager

    Voyager 1 completed its Jupiter encounter in early April, after taking almost 19,000 pictures and many other scientific measurements. ... The Voyager 1 and 2 Saturn encounters occurred nine months apart, in November 1980 and August 1981. Voyager 1 is leaving the solar system. Voyager 2 completed its encounter with Uranus in January 1986 and ...

  2. Voyager 1 Image of Saturn

    Voyager 1 looked back at Saturn on Nov. 16, 1980, four days after the spacecraft flew past the planet, to observe the appearance of Saturn and its rings from this unique perspective. A few of the spokelike ring features discovered by Voyager appear in the rings as bright patches in this image, taken at a distance of 5.3 million kilometers (3.3 ...

  3. 40 Years Ago: Voyager 1 Explores Saturn

    Today, Voyager 1 is the most distant spacecraft from Earth, more than 14 billion miles away and continuing on its journey out of our solar system. Forty years ago, it made its closest approach to Saturn. Although it was not the first to explore the giant ringed planet, as the Pioneer 11 spacecraft completed the first flyby in 1979, Voyager ...

  4. Voyager

    Each Voyager space probe carries a gold-plated audio-visual disc in the event that the spacecraft is ever found by intelligent life forms from other planetary systems. Examine the images and sounds of planet earth. Images Voyager Took The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft explored Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune before starting their journey ...

  5. Images Voyager Took

    Images Voyager Took. The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft explored Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune before starting their journey toward interstellar space. Here you'll find some of those iconic images, including "The Pale Blue Dot" - famously described by Carl Sagan - and what are still the only up-close images of Uranus and Neptune.

  6. Images taken by the Voyager 1 Spacecraft

    Early Voyager 1 Images of Jupiter Full Resolution: TIFF (491.5 kB) JPEG (21.78 kB) 1996-09-26: Jupiter: ... TIFF (13.88 kB) JPEG (1.624 kB) 1999-06-19: Saturn: Voyager: 800x550x3: PIA00335: Full-disk Color Image of Crescent Saturn with Rings and Ring Shadows Full Resolution: ...

  7. Voyager 1

    Its flyby of the Saturn system in November 1979 was as spectacular as its previous encounter. Voyager 1 found five new moons, a ring system consisting of thousands of bands, wedge-shaped transient clouds of tiny particles in the B ring that scientists called "spokes," a new ring (the "G-ring"), and "shepherding" satellites on either side of the F-ring—satellites that keep the ...

  8. Voyager 1 Photographs Saturn's Rings: See the Pictures

    A spread from the Nov. 24, 1980, issue of TIME TIME. This montage of images of the Saturnian system was prepared from an assemblage of images taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft during its Saturn ...

  9. First-Ever Solar System Family Portrait (1990)

    The Solar System "family portrait" is the final series of 60 images captured by NASA's Voyager 1 that show six of our solar system's planets. ... and Saturn on Nov. 12, 1980. After snapping the Pale Blue Dot and other "family photos," — at 05:22 GMT, Feb. 14, 1990 — Voyager 1 powered off its cameras forever. Mission planners wanted to ...

  10. Category : Photos of Saturn system by Voyager 1

    The following 44 files are in this category, out of 44 total. 3D Saturn.png 1,059 × 398; 156 KB. Atlas - Voyager 1.jpg 78 × 78; 966 bytes. Craters on Rhea in color.jpg 870 × 640; 98 KB. Crescent Saturn as seen from Voyager 1.jpg 1,262 × 831; 314 KB. Dione from Voyager 1 (1980).jpg 1,000 × 1,000; 542 KB. Dione from Voyager 1.jpg 600 × 450 ...

  11. NASA Voyager Probes: 18 Best Pictures As 46-Year Journey ...

    Here are 18 groundbreaking photos from their incredible mission. This montage shows examples of striking images of the solar system Voyager 1 and 2 took on their missions. NASA/JPL/Insider. Nearly ...

  12. Voyager: 15 incredible images of our solar system (gallery)

    Layers of haze covering Saturn's moon Titan are seen in this image taken by Voyager 1 on Nov. 12, 1980, at a range of 13,700 miles (22,000 km). This false-color image shows the details of the haze ...

  13. 45 Years Ago: Voyager 1 Begins its Epic Journey to the Outer ...

    Left: Voyager 1 image of Saturn, partially backlit by the Sun. Right: Voyager 1 image of Saturn's largest moon Titan, with evidence of a blue atmospheric haze layer. Voyager 1 began its long-range observations of Saturn on Aug. 22, 1980, passed within 114,500 miles of the planet's center on Nov. 12, and concluded its studies on Dec. 14 ...

  14. When Voyager gave us the first close-up pictures of Saturn's rings

    Voyager was the first to image Saturn's rings in enough detail to make out features like the "spokes" seen here in the B ring on August 22, 1981, from a distance of 2.5 million miles (4 ...

  15. Encounter with Saturn: Voyager 1 Imaging Science Results

    Abstract. As Voyager 1 flew through the Saturn system it returned photographs revealing many new and surprising characteristics of this complicated community of bodies. Saturn's atmosphere has numerous, low-contrast, discrete cloud features and a pattern of circulation significantly different from that of Jupiter.

  16. Voyager

    The Voyager 1 and 2 Saturn encounters occurred nine months apart, in November 1980 and August 1981. Voyager 1 is leaving the solar system. Voyager 2 completed its encounter with Uranus in January 1986 and with Neptune in August 1989, and is now also en route out of the solar system. The two Saturn encounters increased our knowledge and altered ...

  17. Voyager 1

    Voyager 1 encountered Saturn in November 1980, with the closest approach on November 12, 1980, when the space probe came ... made under the direction of a team including Carl Sagan and Timothy Ferris, includes photos of the Earth and its lifeforms, a range of scientific information, spoken greetings from people such as the Secretary-General ...

  18. The best space pictures from the Voyager 1 and 2 missions

    Image: NASA / JPL / Ted Stryk. Saturn as seen by Voyager 1 The last picture from Voyager 1's approach to Saturn in which the entire planet and ring system can be seen in a single frame. Image: NASA/JPL/Björn Jónsson. Voyager 2's best view of Enceladus This was the Voyager mission's best view of Enceladus, captured by Voyager 2 on August 26 ...

  19. Voyager 1: Facts about Earth's farthest spacecraft

    Voyager 1 visits Saturn and its moons. Scientists only had to wait about a year, until 1980, to get close-up pictures of Saturn. ... Voyager 1 took one of the most iconic photos in spaceflight ...

  20. Pale Blue Dot at 30: Voyager 1's iconic photo of Earth from space

    On Feb. 14, 1990, NASA's Voyager 1 probe snapped a photo of Earth from 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) away. The image shows our home planet as it truly is — a tiny, lonely outpost of ...

  21. Things are finally looking up for the Voyager 1 interstellar spacecraft

    "NASA's Voyager 1 interstellar spacecraft actually isn't even in the solar system anymore," I announced. "Nope, it's more than 15 billion miles (24 billion km) away from us — and it's getting ...

  22. Saturn Then and Now

    Nov 10, 2010. Article. The day NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft made its closest approach to Saturn, it revealed the kinks in one of Saturn's narrowest rings. The nature of Saturn's F ring was one of the biggest surprises of the Voyager spacecraft encounters with Saturn. The image on the left from Voyager 1 was released on Nov. 12, 1980.

  23. After crisis in interstellar space, stream of Voyager 1 data resumes

    It was the ultimate remote IT service, spanning 24 billion kilometers of space to fix an antiquated, hobbled computer built in the 1970s. Voyager 1, one of the celebrated twin spacecraft that was the first to reach interstellar space, has finally resumed beaming science data back to Earth after a 6-month communications blackout, NASA announced this week.

  24. NASA Voyager 1 Back To Science After Glitch In Interstellar Space

    Voyager 1 lives. The 46-year-old spacecraft is back to interstellar science after NASA repaired a glitch from 15 billion miles away. There's more recovery work ahead.

  25. Saturn and Neptune, 27 May 2024

    Saturn and Neptune, 27 May 2024 - posted in Major & Minor Planetary Imaging: The skies were clear, but the seeing was pretty poor (3/7). Not too sure why, the weather forecast looked promising. Saturn had its usual (for recent times) drab appearance, and there was very little detail evident even after sharpening. The first image here shows Saturn at captured scale with (L-R) Dione, Rhea ...

  26. The Pale Blue Dot

    The Pale Blue Dot - Revisited. The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of Earth taken Feb. 14, 1990, by NASA's Voyager 1 at a distance of 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) from the Sun. The image inspired the title of scientist Carl Sagan's book, "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," in which he wrote: "Look again at that ...

  27. 5 iconic sci-fi celebrities you can meet in Birmingham

    Meet him, greet him: Frakes will be at his autograph booth on Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2.Prices are $60 per autograph, $50 per selfie, $75 for photo op (photo taken by Celeb Photo Ops, includes ...