Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Carolyn Porco flies us to Saturn

By Hannah W.

As the leader of imaging for the Cassini Mission, Carolyn Porco shares the immense progress that the space community has reached since the launch of the Huygens probe. There has only been assumptions when it comes to two of Saturn's moons, Titan and Enceladus. But with this new technology they are able to test the compounds in the air and in the soil. With all of this new information, they have realized that it is quite likely that there is other forms of life than just on Earth.

Titan is Saturn's largest moon and has the same surface type as Earth. It has shores along large masses of fluids, thousands of kilometers of sand dunes and other landforms along those lines. Titan is covered in organic compounds and the "air" is made up of mostly nitrogen. Knowing this, they think that this moon might be able to sustain life. If this is the case it could mean huge things. Enceladus on the other hand is almost completely opposite of Earth. The hottest part of the moon is it's south pole, and its coldest along it's equator.

The Huygens probe was built in Europe and when launched it took seven years to get to Titan. Huygens was a landmark moment for space technology, it brought countries together in celebration of their success. This moment should have had it's own parade.

You can tell that Porco loves what she does and what she's discovered. As she talks and explains you can see that she has invested so much time into this project and she so wholeheartedly believes that her work will be the horizon of new and better outlooks for humanity. The fact that she actually believes in what she's talking about catches your attention, and once she has it she continues to surprise by making jokes and announcing these incredible discoveries.

Thanks to Porco's team, humanity might have a fighting chance after all. If Titan is almost able to support human life, if not already supporting some kind of life, what's to say that our other planets could do the same. These discoveries are amazing and I have no doubt that they, along with Porco, will do great things.

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