Carolyn Porco

Cassini Science Imaging Team Leader

Explorer's Club
65 minutes, 30.1mb, recorded 2005-10-20
Carolyn Porco
Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS) has been focused on Saturn since early 2004 as the Cassini spacecraft approached its orbit around the planet. With the exception of a brief mission overview, Carolyn's talk focuses on the data and events from this point forward.

Cassini has already produced some spectacular images of Saturn's rings, the smaller moons embedded in the rings, and some of the larger moons all of which will be explored more in depth during Cassini's future missions.

Carolyn highlights two of the moons where some significant discoveries have already occurred. First, the icy moon Enceladus contains fissures that suggest tectonics, the south pole is especially warm and has signatures of organic material. Ice crystals in the upper atmosphere from venting fluids indicate that the moon is geologically active.

The other moon, Titan, is where the Huygens probe landed in January 2005. From the panoramic images taken during the decent and the all the data that has been collected since, the CICLOPS team is excited to see signs that fluids once flowed over the surface, that the atmosphere has precipitation and that the probe itself may have landed on a shoreline. All-in-all, the Titan moon may give us a significant glimpse of what the Earth was like before living organisms.

Lastly Carolyn shares some of her views on science and spirituality after having been involved for many years with such large projects that are far reaching and impact many people's lives.


This talk was from the Explorer's Club session at Pop!Tech. The other speakers in this session were Peter Diamandis and Marcia McNutt. The question and answer period for these talks is included in this program.

Carolyn Porco received her PhD in 1983 from the California Institute of Technology in Planetary Science, as part of the Voyager imaging team worked on Voyager's encounters with Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Currently Carolyn is the leader of the Cassini Science Imaging Team and a lead imaging scientist on the New Horizons Pluto/Kuiper Belt mission, to be launched in early 2006.

In addition to being a Senior Research Scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and an Adjunct Professor at both the University of Colorado and the University of Arizona she has made numerous appearances on radio and television explaining science to the general public. In late 1999, she was selected by the Sunday London Times as one of 18 scientific leaders of the 21st century. Her contributions to the exploration of the outer solar system were recently recognized with the naming of Asteroid (7231) Porco.


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