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Remembering the first solar system probes

Return to a time when little was known about the outer planets and everyone looked forward to Voyager’s discoveries.

Voyager-spacecraft
Voyager spacecraft
NASA
James Oberg took us through the myriad probes we’ll send out or are already on their way exploring the solar system in the January 2011 issue. The 2010s promises to be an exciting decade for planetary science, but surely no more exciting than the late 1970s and ’80s, when the Voyager probes sent back the first dispatches from the farthest planets orbiting our Sun. It may be hard to imagine a time before Voyager, in our age of consistent planetary and even cometary and asteroidal probes, but a mere 30 years ago we were limited to just what we could learn from earthbound telescopes. In 1981, then Astronomy Editor Richard Berry shared some of the ringed giant’s latest discoveries, as well as questions still needing answers, in “Voyager: Science at Saturn.”

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