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Ring Around the Planet

1 Oct 2009, 16:14 UTC
Ring Around the Planet
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From the "In Case You Missed It" department, last week Dennis Overbye wrote a lovely profile of astrophysicist Carolyn Porco for The New York Times. The honor is justly deserved: Porco trailblazed a path for women in space science as part of the team that analyzed data from the Voyager spacecraft in the 1980s. She "demonstrated a knack for picking out important things," according to her thesis advisor, Peter Goldreich. Mentored by Carl Sagan, among others, Porco now heads the camera team for the Cassini spacecraft, currently orbiting Saturn (as it has been for the last five years). She's also actively involved in science communication and outreach, both through the usual channels, and via Hollywood. She was a consultant on the film Contact, and more recently, for J.J. Abrams' summer blockbuster, Star Trek. Remember when the Starship Enterprise materialized inside clouds around Titan? That was Porco's contribution, and it made the cover of Cinefex, a publication devoted to special effects in the movies.
"To my mind, most people go through live recoiling from its best parts," Porco told The New York Times. "They miss the enrichment that just a basic knowledge of the physical world can bring to ...

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