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On This Day: Voyager 2 Flies By Saturn

NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft captured this view of Saturn on Aug. 11, 1981, two weeks before its closest approach to the ringed planet. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

On This Day: Voyager 2 Flies By Saturn

On August 25, 1981, the Voyager 2 spacecraft completed a historic flyby of Saturn. Today (8/25/2023) is the 35th anniversary of this event.

During the flyby, Voyager 2 zoomed within 26,000 miles of Saturn’s cloud tops. The discoveries made by both Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1 (which had flown past Saturn nine months earlier) revolutionized our scientific understanding of the Saturn system. The Voyager missions also set the stage for NASA’s Cassini mission, which began orbiting the ringed planet in 2004.

Voyager 2 was launched by NASA on August 20, 1977. To this day, it’s the only spacecraft to have visited both Uranus and Neptune, the Ice Giant planets. The craft still remains in contact with Earth through the NASA Deep Space Network, a worldwide network of American spacecraft communication ground segment facilities located in California, Madrid, and Canberra. Voyager 2 is the second spacecraft to enter interstellar space after its twin craft Voyager 1. They remain the only two human-made objects to reach the space between our Sun and the other stars of our galaxy.