Carolyn Porco

Sr. Research Scientist, Space Center Institute

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. 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.

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.”