Voyager 1 encounter with Saturn

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Abstract

Since August 22, the Voyager 1 spacecraft has been making regular observations of Saturn as part of its encounter activities, which climax on Wednesday, November 12, when the spacecraft makes a close encounter with Titan and subsequently with Saturn. During the several days around‘closest approach,’ all of the 10 instruments onboard Voyager will be making intensive observations. The imaging investigation is the principal data gatherer until the close approach. Pictures of Saturn were taken at approximately 2-hour intervals at five different longitudes and using five different colored filters. On October 24 the range to Saturn diminished, so that four-frame mosaics were required to cover the planet and its rings. From these, time-lapse movies similar to those made of Jupiter in 1979 will be assembled. Saturn does not, however, present the same colorful complex subject as Jupiter. Although some atmospheric features have been identified, and a general banded structure is evident, the planet seems to have a uniform upper cloud deck. It remains to be seen how much structure can ultimately be discovered.

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