Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday TED Talk: Carolyn Porco Flies Us to Saturn

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, who heads up the Imaging Team for the Cassini mission to Saturn, in seventeen brief minutes shares the amazing photography and scientific results which the mission contributed to our knowledge of the distant ring planet. Particularly fascinating is her description of the Huygens probe which Cassini landed on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, and which sent back the first photographs ever from the surface of another planetary satellite. She follows that accomplishment with an account of Cassini's amazing discovery of liquid water under the south pole of Enceladus, the sixth largest of Saturn's sixty-one moons:

You may click on the button above to watch her talk, but this is one TED lecture I really recommend watching in its high-resolution version, if you have Quicktime or Windows Media Player installed. The stunning images of Saturn which she shows at the end can best be appreciated in that format.

There is a brief biography of Carolyn Porco on the TED site, and Wikipedia's article on her is here. There are websites for the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations, and also for the latest images and news from Cassini, including a virtual tour of Saturn in 3-D. (The last requires installation of an add-in to your browser.) All are well worth your time.

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