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 million miles) from the planet. Saturn’s shadow falls upon the rings, and the bright Saturn crescent is seen through all but the densest portion of the rings. From Saturn, Voyager 1 is on a trajectory taking the spacecraft out of the ecliptic plane, away from the Sun and eventually out of the solar system (by about 1990). Although its mission to Jupiter and Saturn is nearly over (the Saturn encounter ends Dec. 18, 1980), Voyager 1 will be tracked by the Deep Space Network as far as possible in an effort to determine where the influence of the Sun ends and interstellar space begins. Voyager 1’s flight path through interstellar space is in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus. Voyager 2 will reach Saturn on August 25, 1981, and is targeted to encounter Uranus in 1986 and possibly Neptune in 1989. The Voyager project is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
Image Credt: NASA/JPL