Carolyn Porco

DR. CAROLYN C. PORCO received her PhD degree in 1983 from the California Institute of Technology in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, having completed her doctoral dissertation on Voyager discoveries in the rings of Saturn. In the fall of 1983, she joined the faculty in the Department of Planetary Sciences within the University of Arizona; the same year she was made a member of the Voyager Imaging Team. In the latter capacity, she participated heavily in the Voyager encounters with Uranus in 1986 and Neptune in 1989, leading the Rings Working Group within the Voyager Imaging Team during the latter encounter.

In November 1990, she was selected as the leader of the Imaging Team for the Cassini mission to Saturn, an international mission that has successfully placed a spacecraft in orbit around Saturn, and deployed an atmospheric probe to Saturn's largest satellite, Titan. She is also an imaging scientist on the Pluto/Kuiper Belt mission, New Horizons, which will launch to Pluto in 2006.

She is currently a Sr. Research Scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She has taught both graduates and undergraduates and was one of 5 finalists for the University of Arizona Honors Center `Five Star Faculty Award', a campus-wide student-nominated, student-judged award for outstanding undergraduate teaching.

She has been an active participant in guiding the American planetary exploration program through membership on several important NASA advisory committees, including the Solar System Exploration Subcommittee, the Mars Observer Recovery Study Team, and the Solar System Road Map Development Team. She served as the chaiperson for a small NASA advisory working group to study and develop future outer solar system missions and she recently served as the Vice Chair of the Steering Group for the Solar System Decadal Survey, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences and NASA.

Dr. Porco, currently a regular CNN guest analyst and consultant on astronomy, has made many radio and television appearances explaining science to the layman, including appearances on the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour, CBS' 60 Minutes, and TV documentaries on planetary exploration such as "Cosmic Journey: The Voyager Interstellar Mission and Message" on A&E, and "The Planets" on The Discovery Channel. She was a strong and visible defendant of the usage of radioactive materials on the Cassini spacecraft.

Dr. Porco has also given many newspaper and magazine interviews, and has been profiled eight times in print, beginning in 1989 (Boston Globe, October, 1989), in the New York Times (August 1999), in the Tucson Citizen (2001 ), and most recently in Newsday (June 2004).

She was a member of a committee chaired by Carl Sagan in 1994 entitled "Public Communication of NASA's Science." Her popular scientific writings have been published in the London Sunday Times, the Guardian, Astronomy Magazine and the Arizona Daily Star. She continues to be active in the presentation of science to the public as the leader of the Cassini Imaging team. She is the creator/editor of the team's CICLOPS website ( where Cassini images are posted, and writes the site's home page opening greeting to the public.

She is also the CEO of Diamond Sky Productions, a small company devoted to the scientific, as well as artful, use of planetary images and computer graphics for the presentation of science to the public.

Dr. Porco was responsible for the epitaph and proposal to honor the late renowned planetary geologist, Eugene Shoemaker, by sending his cremains to the Moon aboard the Lunar Prospector spacecraft in 1998.

In late 1999, she was selected by the Sunday London Times as one of 18 scientific leaders of the 21st century, and by Industrial Week as one of "50 Stars to Watch".

Her contributions to the exploration of the outer solar system were recently recognized with the naming of Asteroid (7231) Porco: "Named in honor of Carolyn C. Porco, a pioneer in the study of planetary ring systems...and a leader in spacecraft exploration of the outer solar system."


"NASA GOES DEEP" By Carolyn Porco [2.27.07]

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