Planetary scientist and Saturn expert will speak at University of Nevada |

Planetary scientist and Saturn expert will speak at University of Nevada

by Mike Wolterbeek
Univesity of Nevada, Reno

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco will orbit through the University of Nevada, Reno March 16 as part of the College of Science’s Discover Science Lecture Series.

Porco’s accomplishments include work as an imaging scientist for the Voyager program, which sent two probes to the outer solar system in 1977. She also served as an associate member of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and leads the imaging science team for the Cassini mission currently in orbit around Saturn.

Her work in the Saturnian system is extensive. She is an expert on Saturn’s rings, as well as its icy moon Enceladus, whose geysers supply much of the material for one of the planet’s many rings. In 2013 a prediction made by Porco two decades earlier was confirmed when Cassini data showed that acoustic oscillations within the planet create features in its rings.

In 2010 she was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in the Communication of Science to the Public by the American Astronomical Society. In 2012 Porco was named one of the 25 most influential people in space by Time magazine. She was a consultant on the 1997 Robert Zemeckis movie “Contact,” based on a novel by Carl Sagan. Lead actress Jodie Foster was reportedly advised by Sagan to base her performance in the film on Porco.

The Discover Science Lecture Series, in its sixth year, was founded by the University’s College of Science with the aim of bringing top scientists from around the United States to the University to share their knowledge with the community.

As a speaker in the series, Porco joins previous scientific luminaries like astrophysicists Michio Kaku and Neil deGrasse Tyson; Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic; and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Porco’s lecture, which is free to the public, will be held in the Redfield Auditorium in the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center on the University campus at 7 p.m. Free parking for the event can be found at the top level of the Brian J. Whalen Parking Complex on North Virginia Street, next to the E.L. Wiegand Fitness Center. Admission is free. For more information, call 775-784-4591 or visit the Discover Science Lecture Series website.