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September 1, 2014 - A Pioneering Look at Saturn

A Pioneering Look at Saturn Pioneer 11, launched in 1973, was the second spacecraft to visit Jupiter (in 1974) and the first spacecraft to fly past Saturn. During that historic encounter thirty-five years ago this week, Pioneer 11 sent back the first close-up images of Saturn, from as near as 21,000 km (13,000 mi) above the planet’s cloud tops. It also studied the solar wind, measured Saturn’s magnetic field, identified two new rings, and discovered an eleventh moon. In 1980 and 1981, Saturn was visited by the more advanced Voyager spacecraft, and in 2004, Cassini became the first spacecraft to enter orbit around Saturn, where it continues to return images and information. Below the Pioneer image of Saturn is a view obtained by Voyager 2 in 1981, and at the bottom is a Cassini image of Saturn taken in 2008.

Image credit: Pioneer: processed image © Ted Stryk, raw data NASA / AMES; Voyager: NASA / JPL; Cassini: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute

Weekly Calendar

September 1-7, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 1

Labor Day

1964: First Titan IIIA launched
1979: Pioneer 11 becomes first spacecraft to fly past Saturn

Moon phase Tuesday 2

First Qtr Moon 7:11 AM ET

Moon phase Wednesday 3

1970: NASA cancels last two planned lunar landings
1976: Viking 2 lands on Mars
2006: SMART-1 spacecraft intentionally crashed into Moon

Moon phase Thursday 4

Moon phase Friday 5

Venus 0.8° north of Regulus

1964: OGO-1 launched
1977: Voyager 1 launched

Moon phase Saturday 6

1947: First rocket launch (V-2) from an aircraft carrier
1983: STS-8 Challenger makes first shuttle night landing
2013: LADEE lunar orbiter launched

Moon phase Sunday 7

1995: STS-69 Endeavour launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.