Carolyn Porco
Planetary scientist

Carolyn Porco is leader of the imaging team for the Saturn-orbiting Cassini mission, and a veteran imaging scientist on the 1980s Voyager mission to the outer planets. Over the course of a 40-year career in planetary science, she has made seminal scientific contributions in a variety of disciplines, most recently in the study of the Saturnian moon, Enceladus, believed to be home to the solar system’s most accessible habitable zone. She was invited by Carl Sagan to be the character consultant on the 1997 film Contact, based on Sagan’s novel, and worked with him in planning and executing Voyager 1’s famous 1990 “Pale Blue Dot” image of Earth. She is the creator of the July 19, 2013 “The Day the Earth Smiled” event, inviting people the world over to participate in Cassini’s imaging of the Earth from Saturn. She is a popular public spokesperson for science, planetary exploration, and related topics. In 2012, she was named one of the 25 most influential people in space by TIME magazine. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley.