As the leader of the Imaging Team on the Cassini mission to Saturn, Carolyn Porco interprets and shares the pictures coming back from this fascinating planet, its rings and its moons.

Why you should listen

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco studies and interprets the photos from the Cassini-Huygens mission, orbiting Saturn and its largest moon, Titan. She and a team of scientists from NASA and the European Space Agency have been analyzing the images that Cassini has been sending back since it left Earth in 1999. They've found many new rings and four new moons (so far). And they've produced breathtaking images and animations of the stormy face of Saturn, its busy rings, and its jumble of moons and moonlets.

Back in the mid-1980s, while still working on her doctorate, Porco was drafted onto a team at JPL that was crunching the mountains of data coming back from the Voyager fly-by of Saturn. Her work on the planet's "ringlets," and on a spoke pattern noticed in the rings, made an important connection between Saturn's rings and its magnetic field -- and cemented her connection with Saturn.

Her ongoing work at the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPs) has two goals: to process and interpret the Cassini images for other scientists, and to make sure the images -- in all their breathtaking poetry and mystery and sheer Save-Image-As-Desktop awesomeness -- connect with the general public. She is an advocate for the exploration and understanding of planetary space, and her frequent talks (as well as her "Captain's Log" memos on the CICLOPS website) speak to everyone, scientist and nonscientist alike.

Carolyn Porco’s TED talks

Carolyn Porco on the TED Blog
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Science

Say cheese, world. Saturn is watching.

July 3, 2013

In her 2007 TED Talk, “This is Saturn,” planetary scientist Carolyn Porco blew some minds with images taken by Cassini, the robot spaceship launched in October 1997 to study and photograph Saturn and its accompanying moons. Gleaning “oohs” and “aahs” from the assembled TED audience, she concluded with a stunning shot of a backlit picture […]

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Supercomputer visualizations show the guts of exploding stars

August 1, 2009

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory are using the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer to model supernovas, and New Scientist has published a gallery of snapshots from the fiery visualizations. The images uncover the beautiful symmetry — and chaos — flowing through these explosive events. Visit the gallery now >> TEDTalks stars Carolyn Porco, Brian Cox and […]

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Quotes from Carolyn Porco

Imagine the day when we might journey to the Saturnine system, and visit the Enceladus interplanetary geyser park, just because we can.
Carolyn Porco
TED2009 • 610K views May 2009
Fascinating, Informative