Science

Voyager 2’s Flyby On Saturn Celebrates 35th Year; 5 Discoveries We Learned From The Expedition

By Rodney Rafols , Aug 25, 2016 03:00 AM EDT
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The Voyager 2 has been in Space for 35 years. Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have become the longest running NASA spacecrafts. The two have also become the farthest man-made objects to ever reach the outer regions of our solar system.

With the achievements of both exploration crafts, NASA looks back at some of the achievements made by Voyager 2. The spacecraft made its closest approach on Saturn on August 25, 1981, as Science Daily reports. For the second time, mankind has been able to see the planet much closer after the first flyby made by Pioneer 11 back in 1979.

Some of the highlights of Voyager 2's Saturn flyby can be recounted, of which the following are notable.

1. More Detailed Images Of Saturn's Moons

Previously, Saturn and her moons have not been viewed much in detail. With Voyager 2's flyby, details about Saturn's moons have emerged. Some of the moons viewed by Voyager 2 include Tethys, Dione, Rhea, and Iapetus. What astronomers saw on those moons were landscapes that hinted of a violent past.

2. Some Of Its Moons Are still Active Geologically

While many of Saturn's moons have seen much violence, there have also been hints that at least some of them were still geologically active. Enceladus for instance had been seen with geysers still active on its surface, as a joint NASA-Europe craft called Cassini has shown. Cassini has been studying Saturn since 2004.

3. The Discovery Of More Moons

At least four more moons had been discovered by Voyager 2 when it flew by Saturn. Not only were there more moons, but that they also came in different shapes and sizes. The moons also had an effect on Saturn's rings, which had been likened to ripples made on water. Some of the moons had also created gaps on the rings.

4. The Discovery Of Jet Streams From Saturn's Northern Polar Region

Voyager 2 has noted that there were hexagonal het streams coming from Saturn's northern polar region, as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has noted in its report. These jet streams continue to be studied by astronomers through Cassini.

5. The Discovery Of More Rings On Saturn

Up close, Voyager 2 had discovered that Saturn's rings were in fact made up of more rings. Faint rings were seen by the spacecraft as well as ones called spokes, which were described as ghostly, faint rings.

Much of what Voyager 2 had discovered remain as mysteries to scientists, and the planet is still being studied until today to unlock those mysteries. Voyager 2 right now is about 15 billion kilometers away from the sun, heading on a southerly direction. Its sister Voyager 1 is about 11 billion kilometers away from the sun and on a northern course.

Both crafts carry a Golden Record which has greetings from Earth in 60 languages as well as music and sounds that scientists hope would be discovered by interstellar lifeforms and would also hopefully open up communication with other beings from space.

While Voyager 2 reaches out to the depths of space, iTechPost reports of a NASA rover that is covering Mars' surface.

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