Carolyn Porco


Carolyn C. Porco was born March 6, 1953. She is an American planetary scientist known for her work in the exploration of the outer solar system. In the 1980s, she began her career with her imaging work on the Voyager missions to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. She  leads the imaging science team on the Cassini mission currently in orbit around Saturn. Carolyn is an expert on planetary rings and Enceladus, one of the moons of Saturn.

Carolyn was born in New York City. She graduated in 1970 from Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, in New York City. She earned a BS degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1974. She received her Ph. D in 1983 from the California Institute of Technology in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences.[Supervised by dynamicist Peter Goldreich, she wrote her doctoral dissertation focused on Voyager discoveries in the rings of Saturn.

Carolyn was founder of The Day the Earth Smiled. She was also responsible for the epitaph and proposal to honor the late renowned planetary geologist Eugene Shoemaker by sending his cremains to the MoonCarolyn Porco aboard the Lunar Prospector spacecraft in 1998.

A frequent public speaker, she has given two popular lectures at TED as well as the opening speech for Pangea Day, a May 2008 global broadcast coordinated from six cities around the world, in which she described the cosmic context for human existence. Carloyn has also won a number of awards and honors for her contributions to science and the public sphere; for instance, in 2010 she was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal, presented by the American Astronomical Society for Excellence in the Communication of Science to the Public. And in 2012, she was named one of the 25 most influential people in space by Time magazine.

She has co-authored more than 110 scientific papers on subjects ranging from the spectroscopy of Uranus and Neptune, the interstellar medium, the photometry of planetary rings, to Triton’s polar caps and much more. In 2013, Cassini data confirmed a 1993 prediction by Carolyn and fellow researcher Mark Marley that acoustic oscillations within the body of Saturn are responsible for creating particular features in the rings of Saturn.

Carolyn Porco has an active Twitter account

What an excerpt from her TED talk “Could a Saturn Moon Harbor Life?”

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