Post-Encounter, Saturn. 32 x 48.
NASA sent me out to Aimes Laboratory for the Pioneer-Saturn fly by in
1980. All Pioneer had was a single photo receptor that scanned the
environment each revolution of the space craft, which rotated 4.8
times per minute with its main antenna pointing toward earth a billion
miles away. By positioning a green or a red filter over the receiver
of the light we could read different brightness on a scale of one to
eight, and from these electrically-made data we were able to
reconstruct the image of Saturn and determine its color. It took
eighty-three minutes for a command to get from us to Pioneer and
eight-three minutes for it to answer us, yet we got a view so vivid
and accurate that we scooped Voyager that came through a year later.
Pioneer is still out there and sending its signals back. It was a
beautiful piece of engineering. If you stand ten feet back from this
canvas, this is how Saturn would look from one million kilometers.
Little Pioneer II is leaving the giant behind as it journeys out of
the solar system. Earth and the sun lie almost a billion miles to the
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