The United States spacecraft Voyager I, making its closest approach yet to Saturn, has located two new moons around the ringed planet.
GV PAN DOWN Stars showing orbit trajectory lines of spacecraft and moon ZOOM INTO saturn with Voyager I spacecraft emerging at lower left and travelling towards planet
CU Photograph of Saturn taken 20 million miles away by Voyager I
CU Photograph taken by computer showing the planet's rings
CU Photograph of Saturn showing cloud belts
GV Animation of Voyager I approaching Saturn, with Titan, largest moon in the solar system, one left (2 shots)
GV Animated Voyager I approaches closer to Saturn. Fade out
GV Titan and planet fades out as Voyager I passes and spacecraft dips below the rings of Saturn (2 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The United States spacecraft Voyager I, making its closest approach yet to Saturn, has located two new moons around the ringed planet. Another two known moons are closing in on each other in the same orbit, but scientists say they are not expected to collide because the pull of gravity will alter their orbits as they near each other. Officials of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the discoveries as Voyager moved closer to the planet. The spacecraft, loaded with television and scientific equipment, will move within 77 thousand miles (124,000 kms) of Saturn on November 12.
SYNOPSIS: This computer-generated film, released by NASA, shows the Voyager's path as it travels towards Saturn, the solar system's second largest planet. Voyager I was launched in the northern summer of 1977, and had travelled billions of miles (kilometres) when it took this photograph of Saturn -- twenty million miles from the planet's surface.
The spacecraft began photographing the planet's full disc in August (1980), with details increasing as the distance diminished. Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun, is the only body in the solar system that is lighter than water. Scientists hope time-lapse photographs will reveal the motions of Saturn's dense atmospheric gases.
Thirty-one hours before its closest approach to Saturn voyager I will be carrying out navigation manoeuvres and remote-sensing operations. The spacecraft carriers ten instruments to make high resolution studies of the entire Saturn system and recent pictures have been an improvement over the low-resolution images returned by Pioneer II when it passed Saturn in September 1979.
Eighteen hours before Voyager I reaches Saturn, it will approach Titan, the largest moon in the solar system and the only one known to have a dense atmosphere, believed to consist of methane gas. The spacecraft will make important scientific measurements as it passes the cloud-covered satellite and take the first high-resolution photographs of Titan. Scientists say results so far have been very exciting.
After passing Titan, Voyager once more will turn its attention to Saturn and its rings. Ultraviolet and infrared instruments will study the planet's composition and take its temperature, while other equipment searches for more clues to Saturn's makeup. After transmitting pictures and data back to earth, Voyager I will swing out of the solar system and into interstellar space.