Science: Close Encounter with Saturn

Voyager 1 spots two new moons, foresees a heavenly waltz

Every December the ancient Romans indulged in a colossal round of drinking, carousing and tumultuous revelry. The orgiastic festival, perhaps coinciding with the winter planting, was staged to propitiate Saturn, the sickle-wielding deity of agriculture. Now scientists gathered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena may be tempted to hold their own Saturnalia. Next week, after traveling for more than three years, their robot Voyager 1 spacecraft will achieve its closest encounter with Saturn, providing the most spectacular view yet of the beautifully ringed planet and its system of moons.

After nearly four...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!