Carolyn Porco

Women in Science – Carolyn Porco

Ok I am not going to get to a weekly update in this week so I am finishing up this “Women in Science” Post that has been sitting in my drafts for far too long.

Today’s post is on Dr Carolyn Porco who is a planetary scientist. Reading about her was like going down the rabbit hole. Every step I took involved taking another step so I could understand the first step. Every wonder led to another wonder that I need to read about. She has written 115 scientific papers so clearly I am only going to be scratching the surface. As always hopefully this is a starting point for your own rabbit hole of discovery. For the first link we will go with her biography on her website.

Carolyn Porco
Carolyn Porco (Source Wikipedia)

Bio on her website

Wikipedia – Carolyn Porco

She was a member of the Voyager Imaging Team. As part of that team she described the ringlets and spokes in the rings of Saturn. She also showed how the two newly discovered moons of Uranus were shepherding the outer rings.

Vg1 p23254 hires

Saturn as imaged by Voyager 1
She also made a prediction along with another that certain features in the rings were cause by oscillations in Saturn and could be used as a seismograph. This led to a greater understanding of the structure of Saturn and other planets with rings. This prediction was shown to be correct 20 years latter with the Cassini / Huygens mission where she is in charge of the imaging team.

Huygens surface color sr

The Cassini / Huygens mission discovered seven new moons of Saturn and some new rings. One of the cool things is that they did some close flybys of some of the moons and dropped the Huygens probe down to the surface of Titan. One of these moons, Enceladus, is the most likely place for us to find life. It has been speculated that life there might predate life on Earth and even be the source.

Enceladus geysers
Enceladus geysers
In the TED video below she talks about the geysers on the south pole of Enceladus and that there is a liquid ocean under a frozen surface. She also talks about some of the carbon based molecules they detected as they flew the space craft through the geysers.

The next video is actually the TED talk that is mention above as having happened two years prior. In this one she is talking more about the discoveries on Titan and the landing of the probe Huygens.

Other Links…

Wikipedia – Enceladus

Cassini Imaging Website

Linking up at:

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2 thoughts on “Women in Science – Carolyn Porco”

  1. Interesting and again, I applaud you for making sure your daughter knows that she can grow up and have options. I wonder how many other homeschooling dads are that enlightened? Lol!

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