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Voyager Images of Saturn's Rings


Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were both launched in 1977. They both flew by Jupiter in 1979 before encountering Saturn. Voyager 1 made its closest approach to Saturn on November 12, 1980 at a distance of 124,000 km. Voyager 2 made its flyby on August 26, 1981 from a distance of 101,000 km.


Voyager 2 photopolarimeter image of the F Ring.
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False color Voyager 2 image of Saturn's rings.
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Color-enhanced Voyager image showing ring spokes.


Voyager 2 Image of Prometheus next to the F Ring. Prometheus is one of the shepherd moons associated with the F Ring. This image was taken on August 25, 1981 from a distance of 365,000 km.


Voyager 2 image of Prometheus and Pandora shepherding the F Ring. The two moons are about 1800 km apart.


False color Voyager 1 image of the unlit side of Saturn's rings. Visible is the Cassini Division (bright) and the A and F Rings.


Another false color Voyager 1 image of the unlit side of Saturn's rings. The details of the B Ring is clearly see in this image.


False color Voyager 2 Image of the unlit side of the rings. The unlit side is rarely visible from Earth, except during ring plane crossings.


Voyager 2 images clearly showing the "spokes" on the B Ring.


Voyager 1 image of the braided F Ring, taken at a distance of 750,000 km. Image resolution is at 15 km.


Voyager 2 image of the spokes on the B Ring. This image was taken on August 22, 1981 at a distance of 4 million km. Image resolution is 100 km.


Spectacular false color Voyager 2 image of Saturn's rings taken on August 23, 1981 from a range of 3 million km. Taken with three separate filters - ultraviolet, blue and green - this image shows that the C Ring, shown in blue, and the B Ring, show in yellow, have possible traces of elements different from each other.


Voyager 2 image of the C and B Ring, taken on August 23, 1981 at a range of 3 million km. Saturn is visible through the rings on the right. The dark large band on the lower left is the Casini Division, and the narrow Keeler Divison is also visible in the A Ring in the lower left hand corner.


A detailed look of the B Ring taken by Voyager 2 on August 25, 1981 from a distance of 743,000 km. The portion of the ring shown here is 6000 km wide with a resolution of 10 km.


Voyager 2 image of the F ring taken on August 26, 1981, just prior to the spacecraft crossing the ring plane. Image resolution is 10km.


Last image taken by Voyager just before it crossed Saturn's ring plane on August 26, 1981. The entire ring system is shown, but at a highly skewed angle. The F Ring shows up prominently in the foreground.


Voyager 2 photopolarimeter occultation trace of the F ring. This is a psuedo image produced on the assumption that all of the structure seen in the occultation trace corresponds to rings rather than individual moonlets. Image resolution is 1 km.


An image derived from Voyager 2's photopolarimeter of a star, Delta Scorpii, occulting the rings. This image has a 1 km resolution and shows the bright central porition of the F Ring.


The dark spokes of the B Ring are clearly visible in this Voyager 2 image.


After passing Saturn, Voyager 2 viewed the B Ring in forward-scattered light. The spokes, seen previously as dark streaks, are now seen as bright streaks from this angle. This indicates that the spokes are caused by particles no larger than the wavelength of light.


One of the most exciting discoveries of Voyager was the presence of wave patterns in the rings. In this pseudo-image generalted from the photopolarimeter occultation trace from Voyager 2, the outer part of the A ring is visible with a narrow 50 km gap. Image resolution is 1 km.


Voyager 1 image of the F Ring showing a variety of kinks, strands and braiding. Also visible on the right is the outer edge of the A Ring.


Voyager 2 photopolarimeter image of the brightest part of the F Ring. False color is used to enhance details, and the image resolution is only 200 meters.

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Ron Baalke