Thirty-five years ago today, the Voyager 1 spacecraft reported back to Earth with data and images of Saturn’s unique beauty.

The probe was one of two Voyager crafts launched in 1977. In addition to sensors and recording equipment, each craft carries a Golden Record—a gold-plated communication of friendship from the people of Earth to whoever or whatever might be out there.

Voyager 1 passed close to Saturn in November 1980. Nine months later, its twin did the same. The encounters yielded all kinds of information about the ringed planet. They measured winds of about 1100 miles an hour near the planet’s equator, and recorded the length of one day on Saturn at 10 hours, 39 minutes, and 24 seconds. The images below were taken from both probes.

The probes continue their journey through the cosmos. In 2013, Voyager 1 left our solar system, ferrying its peaceful message into the unknown at 38,610 miles per hour.

 

Each color indicates a different chemical composition.

Saturn's northern hemisphere


An enhanced image of Saturn's clouds

Saturn's northern hemisphere

All photographs courtesy of NASA