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Legacy of Voyager 2 Lives On in Saturn, 35 Years After

Aug 26, 2016 04:14 AM EDT
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NASA's ICON satellite to study ionosphere, space weather

NASA reached Saturn in a monumental mission 35 years ago using the Voyager 2 spacecraft. The probe produced vital data and a ton of close-up images of the planet.

Voyager 2 managed to get close to Saturn at about 26,000 miles (41,000 kilometers) on Aug. 21, 1981. After so many years the data gathered by Voyager 2 and Voyager 1 that visited Saturn earlier than the second version, are still considered valuable by the scientific community.

The understanding of the ringed planet and how people perceive Saturn today can be greatly attributed to Voyager 2. "Saturn, like all of the planets the Voyagers visited, was full of exciting discoveries and surprises," Ed Stone, voyager project scientist said in a statement. "By giving us unprecedented views of the Saturn system, Voyager gave us plenty of reasons to go back for a closer look," Stone added.

Due to the success of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, NASA's Cassini mission was born. Cassini continues to observe and gather data from Saturn and its moons. Cassini has been observing Saturn and the moons orbiting it since 2004. Since then, the Cassini probe has contributed to men's understanding of the ringed planet.

Scientists have identified that Saturn has very interesting moons such as Titan. Some studies suggest the Titan has the right chemistry to cater to life. "The stars of the Saturn system are the moons, which surprised all of us on both the Voyager and Cassini missions," Linda Spilker, project scientist for Cassini, said in a press release.

Voyager's probe also established that Saturn's moon, Enceladus had evidence of geologic activities that may still be active until today. Cassini managed to prove that there are geysers erupting on Enceladus until today and that they serve as a source of Saturn's E-ring. The Voyager mission 35 already suggested this years ago.

These findings greatly influenced missions to further understand Saturn. Thanks to Voyager 2, Cassini has had a head start in the probe. The findings of both Cassini and Voyager 2, despite providing significant data, only scratched the surface of Saturn's mystery. Further missions are needed to fully understand the region that some experts consider a "mini solar system."

 

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