Saturn and some of its moons, photographed by Voyager 2, 1 September 1981.
After the Saturn flyby, Voyager 2’s scan platform got stuck, which meant that it couldn’t change where its camera was pointing. As a result, it just sat there taking photos of Saturn for a while, some of which are seen in the gif above. (Obviously the camera could move a little bit, as seen by the way the top of the picture moves.)
The story of Voyager 2’s Saturn flyby is told in this (half-hour) contemporary documentary, which shows some of the daily press conferences, including early speculation about the physical processes behind what they were seeing in the pictures being sent back, and a demonstration of the scan platform. It concludes by talking about the future for the Voyagers, saying that before its power runs out, Voyager 1 should reach the edge of the solar system.
A bit after the 3-minute mark, it also shows a video of spokes in Saturn’s B Ring. That very video (cropped, truncated, and processed a little) was the subject of my first Tumblr post.
And, having started with Voyager 2 at Saturn, I’ll now end the daily updates of this blog with this gif from Voyager 2 leaving Saturn. I might still update occasionally, especially since Cassini will continue to send photos back from Saturn for years, but I’ve mined the archives of the older spacecraft as much as I have the will to do so.
Thanks to the followers who’ve joined me along the way; I hope that these little time-lapse animations have increased your admiration for humanity’s space programmes, as they certainly have for me.
The blog hasn’t quite made it to 400 gifs (my original optimistic goal was 200!), but it got pretty close. You can navigate through them by mission or object from the right-hand margin.