Until 2004, no spacecraft had visited Saturn for more than twenty years. Pioneer 11 took the very first close-up images of Saturn when it flew past in 1979. After that flyby, Voyager 1 had its rendezvous about a year later, and in August 1981 Voyager 2 had its brief, but glorious, encounter. Nearly a quarter of a century then passed before new high-resolution images of this beautiful, ringed planet were beamed back to Earth.
Cassini is an unmanned spacecraft sent to the Saturn system. It is the fourth space probe to visit the ringed planet, as well as the first to enter orbit. It has been studying Saturn and its many moons since arriving there in 2004.
On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong radioed back from the surface of the Moon, "... the Eagle has landed". Most of us believe that the landing occurred as broadcast. Not all, however. More than 30 years after the fact, Fox TV aired "Conspiracy Theory: Did We Really Go to the Moon?". In doing so, the Fox entertainers unleashed a lively cabal of kooks and NASA-bashers on a scientifically naive audience without benefit of editorial balance. Polls suggest that perhaps 6% of Americans believe in the authenticity of these claims.