Voyager Visits Saturn, Atlantis Launches to Mir

Thirty years ago today — November 12, 1980 — Voyager-1 made its closest approach to Saturn.

(Image of Saturn and its moons Tethys and Dione, taken on November 3, 1980, as Voyager-1 approached the planet. The shadow of another moon can also be seen on the planet itself. NASA image.)

Voyager-1 flew by the ringed planet at a distance of about 78,000 miles. It sent back wonderful close-up photographs of Saturn and many of its moons. Voyager-1 continues to operate even now, along with its sister spacecraft Voyager-2, exploring beyond the boundary of the solar system. (This Voyager Interstellar Mission page has a neat counter ticking off how far away both Voyagers travel every second.)

On this same date, 15 years ago, the Space Shuttle Atlantis blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on mission STS-74. U.S. astronauts Kenneth D. Cameron, James D. Halsell, Jerry L. Ross, and William S. McArthur, Jr., along with Canadian astronaut Chris A. Hadfield, delivered the Russian Docking Module to the Mir space station on only the second Shuttle-Mir flight.

Personally, I look forward to the day when people get to visit the outer planets, too. I wish I could.

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