Une conversation animée avec Carolyn Porco

Le scientifique planétaire déclaré qui a dirigé l'équipe d'imagerie Cassini a finalement rencontré Mat Kaplan pour une conversation révélatrice et amusante. Nous discutons également avec l'astronome Jay Pasachoff pendant qu'il regarde le minuscule Mercure ramper à travers la face du soleil. Le scientifique en chef, Bruce Betts, était sur le parking de la Planetary Society en train d’apprécier le transit du 11 novembre par Mercury. Il nous rejoint à partir de là pour What’s Up.

Le gagnant sera révélé la semaine prochaine.

Mariner 10 a renvoyé des données sur la comète C / 1973 E1 Kohoutek en janvier 1974.

Mat Kaplan: (00:00:00) Notre première conversation avec Carolyn Porco et le transit de Mercury cette semaine sur Radio planétaire. Bienvenue. Je suis Mat Kaplan, de la Planetary Society, qui parle davantage de l'aventure humaine à travers notre système solaire et au-delà. Elle est l'une des scientifiques planétaires les plus connues de notre planète. Chef de file du secteur de l'imagerie depuis des décennies, elle ne craint pas la controverse. Et il était temps qu'elle soit notre invitée. Rejoignez-moi pour une interview révélatrice, amusante et souvent profonde. Avez-vous attrapé le transit? Bruce Betts l'a fait.

J'ai discuté avec mon partenaire WhatsApp lorsqu'il a vu le minuscule Mercury ramper à travers la face du soleil le 11 novembre. Au-dessus de la Californie du Sud, l’homme qui pourrait être le plus grand chasseur d’éclipse et de transit vivant se trouvait à l’observatoire Big Bear cette semaine, comme il le faisait en août 2017. Jay Pasachoff est sur le terrain (00:01:00) Williams College. Mais il parcourt le monde pour étudier des phénomènes tels que ce transit. Je l'ai atteint sur son téléphone portable quelques instants après qu'il soit sorti de sa voiture à côté de Big Bear Lake.

Jay Pasachoff: D'accord. Nous arrivons juste à l'observatoire. Eh bien, certaines personnes sont déjà venues ici. Juste une seconde. Euh, voudriez-vous porter ceci? Oui s'il vous plaît.

Mat Kaplan: Êtes-vous encore sous le dôme?

Jay Pasachoff: Euh non. Approche juste de la coupole maintenant. Et nous avons rencontré et organisé et certaines personnes sont déjà ici ce matin.

Mat Kaplan: C'est génial. Comment sont les, comment vont les cieux?

Jay Pasachoff: Oh, parfait. Absolument parfait.

Mat Kaplan: Tu ne regardes pas le soleil que je connais, pas encore. Parce que vous êtes trop intelligent pour le faire sans protection. Mais (rires) tu es, tu marches sur cette langue, vers le dôme?

Jay Pasachoff: Ouais. Ouais. Nous sommes sur la chaussée et les caméras sont là-haut. Bonjour Bryan. Vous avez acquis le soleil et juste … Donc, pour le porche pour le moment. Tant de télescopes ici. Et Ben Snyder de l'Arizona, vous savez, alors l'Arizona est ici. Et, et il est en route.

Mat Kaplan: Cela ressemble à une fête de passage (00:02:00).

Jay Pasachoff: Ouais. Une douzaine de personnes au dîner hier soir. C'était très agréable.

Mat Kaplan: Eh bien, vous attendez votre tour. Je suppose que vous allez être dans l'oeil, euh, avant trop longtemps. Et vous pouvez nous dire ce que vous voyez.

Jay Pasachoff: Non. Nous n'avons que des images vidéo pour le moment.

Mat Kaplan: Que vois-tu?

Jay Pasachoff: Eh bien, je vois un petit point.

Mat Kaplan: (rires) C'est bien. (rires) C'est génial.

Jay Pasachoff: Juste dans la bonne taille. Pas de taches de soleil aujourd'hui parce que ça a l'air solennel dans un mois. Nous en voyons environ la moitié ici en Californie. Mais lorsque nous entrons dans le grand télescope, il y aura beaucoup, beaucoup de pixels. C'est très dramatique, c'est pourquoi nous faisons cela depuis la Californie. J'ai un de mes étudiants, Christian Lockwood à l’Université aéronautique Embry-Riddle de Daytona Beach, en Floride, avec quelques autres appareils photo et télescopes pour essayer de voir l’ensemble du transit.

Et en liaison avec des personnes au Chili qui peuvent voir l’ensemble du transit. Et nous essayons de comparer (00:03:00) avec certaines personnes en Allemagne. Mais je suppose que c'était nuageux ce matin.

Mat Kaplan: Oh. Comme c'est ici malheureusement où je suis. J'espère que les nuages ​​continueront de brûler pendant que nous aurons l'occasion de voir ce petit point noir défiler à la face du soleil.

Jay Pasachoff: Eh bien, c'est de la chance. Je me suis arrangé pour que le (inaudible 00:03:17) Robinson Hall, le Linde Center à Caltech soit disponible.

Mat Kaplan: C'est génial. Pendant que je vous ai, rappelez-vous, s'il vous plaît, pourquoi des scientifiques comme vous sont toujours aussi enthousiastes à propos des transits, mis à part le fait qu'il est tout simplement excitant de voir une telle chose se produire alors que cela se produit si rarement.

Jay Pasachoff: Eh bien, c’était, c’était une conservation en 1631 quand Pierre Gassendi en France a vu un transit que Johannes Kepler avait prédit en utilisant ses nouvelles lois sur les orbites qui prouvait vraiment que Kepler avait raison et Copernicus avait raison. Et maintenant nous pouvons faire d'autres choses. Ben Snyder et, et j'ai commencé à regarder les transits de Mercury en 1999. (00:04:00) Et Michelle, par exemple, historiquement, que, euh, au bord du soleil, vous pouvez voir un effet pas comme un effet de fond.

Mais dans le passé, comme les gens ont pensé à tort qu’ils avaient découvert l’atmosphère de Vénus. Alors que c’est vraiment cet effet que nous avons défini. Nous essayons donc toujours de voir cela et de faire mieux. Et puis, il est temps de mesurer la distance entre la terre et le soleil, ce que nous connaissons bien sûr déjà. Mais il y a, on recrée ça par un bâtiment de loin, euh, des endroits sur la terre.

Et ensuite, les gens dans les vaisseaux spatiaux, euh, puis calibrent à quel point leur imagerie est nette, euh, quand ils ont un bon objet éloigné d'une taille connue sur un fond qu'ils regardent quand ils regardent le soleil . Il y a donc beaucoup de raisons de continuer à regarder les transits de Mercure.

Mat Kaplan: Mis à part le fait que c'est toujours aussi excitant, vous en avez toujours un bon coup, n'est-ce pas?

Jay Pasachoff: Oh oui. C'est certainement très bon (00:05:00). Et en plus de l'équipe scientifique avec laquelle je travaille, nous avons amené ma fille, Deborah, Pasachoff et ses petits-enfants, Lily Kutner et Jakob Kutner, âgés de neuf et sept ans. Euh, nous espérons les exciter et, euh, à la prochaine génération voir cet événement et voir le grand télescope.

Mat Kaplan: Jay, j'aimerais être avec vous dans cet endroit magnifique de l'observatoire solaire de Big Bear. Merci de vérifier avec nous. Et, euh, j'espère que le ciel restera dégagé et que vous aurez une vue magnifique du grand télescope sous le dôme, là-haut.

Jay Pasachoff: Merci beaucoup et j'espère que beaucoup de vos auditeurs pourront voir le transit. J'ai une page Web. C'est @ transitofvenus.info, INFO, .info, mais une fois que vous avez cliqué sur transitofvenus.info, il y a des liens vers le transit de Mercure en 2016. Et, et pour aujourd'hui, nous essaierons de poster du contenu dès que possible. Mais aussi, si vous regardez le 2016, vous pouvez voir la qualité de ce que nous pouvons voir avec cet énorme télescope Big Bear.

Mat Kaplan: Excellent et nous mettrons (00:06:00) ce lien sur la page de l'épisode également @ planetary.org / radio.

Jay Pasachoff: Bien.

Mat Kaplan: Merci, Jay.

Jay Pasachoff: Content de vous parler.

Mat Kaplan: Ravi de vous parler. Bye Bye.

Jay Pasachoff: Si longtemps, si longtemps, Mat.

Mat Kaplan: Jay Pasachoff étudie et apprécie le passage de Mercure à la surface du soleil le lundi 11 novembre. Le temps de jeter un coup d'œil sur le lien en bas Le directeur de la rédaction de Planetary Society, Jason Davis, est un condensé d'informations sur la science et la mission planétaires. En l'honneur de Carolyn Porco et de toute l'équipe de la mission Voyager, nous allons commencer par la publication de cinq nouveaux documents de recherche basés sur le passage de Voyager 2 dans l'espace interstellaire il y a un an. Les deux vaisseaux spatiaux existent depuis 42 ans. La Chine a reporté la mission ambitieuse de retour d'échantillons de Chang'e 5.

On s'attend maintenant à ce qu'il parte pour la lune vers la fin de 2020. Et si vous ne l'avez pas encore vu, découvrez le magnifique panorama du ciel du Sud créé par TESS, le satellite d'observation Transiting Exoplanet (00:07:00). Il est composé de 208 instantanés distincts. Ceci et plus ou à planetary.org/downlink. Carolyn Porco fait partie de ces personnes qui peuvent passer une heure ou plus et vous laisser en vouloir plus. Ce n'est pas simplement qu'elle a de belles histoires à raconter. Récits sur son leadership au sein de l'équipe d'imagerie Cassini tout au long de la longue mission de Saturn Explorer.

À propos de son implication antérieure dans le vaisseau spatial Voyager et de l’origine fascinante du point bleu pâle. À propos de son collègue et ami, Carl Sagan, cofondateur de Planetary Society, et même du rôle qu'elle a joué dans la création du contact. Le film magnifique basé sur l'unique roman de Sagan. Sachez que c’est aussi sa personnalité, son humour et sa fougue, sa parole qui en ont fait un commentateur scientifique si populaire. Installez-vous pour un bon moment rugissant. C’est plus fini, cette conversation que tout autre (00:08:00) à laquelle je peux penser, sauf qu’il reste encore quelques personnes que je voudrais bien voir dans cette émission.

Mais vous auriez dû être sur il y a longtemps. Merci d'être venu au siège de la Planetary Society pour une conversation.

Carolyn Porco: Merci de m'avoir invité enfin. (rire) Je suis là. Je suis enfin là.

Mat Kaplan: C'est ce qui compte. Euh, je suis un peu inquiet parce que vous êtes vous-même un très bon animateur de podcast. Je t'ai surpris dans l'émission de Neil Tyson en train de parler à nul autre que Sean Ono Lennon.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais. Nous avons passé du temps ensemble. Il était très intéressé par la science. Et, euh, vous savez, une chose en a conduit une autre et il est venu sur StarTalk All-Stars.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais. Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: J'étais un hôte All-Stars. Et il a également fait un live StarTalk à New York avec moi.

Mat Kaplan: J'ai entendu celui-là aussi.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais. C'était amusant.

Mat Kaplan: Avec, avec lui. Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: C'était très amusant. Ouais.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais. C'est un de ces gens qui n'est pas un scientifique. Je veux dire, comme moi, pas, avec toute la ligne non. Un musicien beaucoup moins, le fils de, encore plus célèbre. Euh, mais il connaît ses affaires. Il adore évidemment (00:09:00) vous parler de ce que vous avez fait pendant des décennies.

Carolyn Porco: Il est très intellectuel. Il est branché. Il est très en forme. C'était formidable de le connaître.

Mat Kaplan: Merci pour toutes les superbes photos.

Carolyn Porco: Oh, ce sont mes bébés. Celles-ci sont littéralement, celles que je ressens, je pense que je ressens ce que je pense de ce que nous avons fait avec Cassini et toutes ces belles images. C'est ce que les parents pensent de leurs enfants (rires). Ce fut une telle joie et un tel privilège de le faire. Je me sentais comme si nous étions, il était de notre devoir de restituer l’enregistrement visuel de nos voyages autour de Saturne. Et c’est une bonne façon de regarder le travail, de le présenter dans tout ce que j’ai écrit sur Cassini sur mon site Web, etc. Comme le, c’était l’aventure romantique que je voulais que les gens ressentent dans leur intestin.

Mat Kaplan: C'était romantique.

Carolyn Porco: C'était. C'était romantique.

Mat Kaplan: Et, et votre devoir, j'aime ça de les sortir et de les partager avec le monde.

Carolyn Porco: Ben ouais. N'oubliez pas que j'ai commencé dans cette entreprise le (00:10:00) Voyager. Voyager est l'endroit où tout a commencé en ce qui me concerne et je, euh, j'ai dit à plusieurs reprises que j'avais mené une existence charmée. Et une partie de cela consistait à avoir pour première mission professionnelle, juste après mes études de troisième cycle, de faire partie de la mission la plus emblématique, la plus vaste, la plus importante, historiquement, euh, je veux dire, etc. Voyageur.

Mat Kaplan: Je ne vous ai pas encore montré, mais de l'autre côté du mur derrière vous, il y a quatre affiches. L'une d'entre elles est notre propre vente de luminaires, mais c'était, euh, un partenaire qui nous a demandé de faire de superbes graphismes. Il voulait déterminer les trois missions de science planétaire les plus populaires de tous les temps. Et alors nous l'avons aidé. Nous avons fait le sondage pour lui. Parmi ces trois, deux sont Voyager et Cassini.

Carolyn Porco: Bien sûr.

Mat Kaplan: Le troisième étant Curiosity sur Mars. Pas étonnant, n'est ce pas?

Carolyn Porco: Non, ce n'est pas surprenant pour moi. Tout le monde aime Voyager. Eh bien, (00:11:00) je donne une conférence et même dans une conférence sur Cassini et moi avons mentionné Voyager, les gens applaudissent.

Mat Kaplan: (des rires)

Carolyn Porco: Je veux dire, ils se rendent compte, ils se rendent compte, c’était, c’était, euh, mon Dieu, il avait tous les éléments, vous savez. Et non seulement le, le voyage dans les siècles, et bien sûr, cela a été souligné par le v-the record, qui, bien sûr, a été dirigé par Carl pour le développement du disque Voyager qui comportait vraiment des symboles de nous.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: Il y avait des jetons de nous dedans. Nous avons donc vraiment eu l'impression, oh, que nous étions tous à bord de cet engin spatial, en train de traverser le système solaire et de pénétrer dans l'espace interstellaire. Euh, il y avait ce regard magnifique de notre propre planète à dire au revoir, puis il a filé sur ses talons et est parti dans l'éternité. Euh, mais c'était aussi la grande aventure qui nous a vraiment montré en détail à quoi ressemblait notre système solaire. (00:12:00) Parce que si vous y réfléchissez, la plupart de notre système solaire réside derrière les orbites des astéroïdes. C'est là que la plupart des masses

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: … Euh, ou si vous voulez parler du volume que les orbites planétaires déterminent, c'est au-delà des orbites des astéroïdes. C'est dans le système solaire externe. Nous ne savions donc pas à quoi ressemblait notre système solaire avant que le Voyager ne dépasse Jupiter, Saturne, Uranus et Neptune. Et c’était, euh, c’est tellement difficile de décrire ce que c’était de participer à cette mission. Chaque chose était nouvelle. Et vous saviez, nous savions, je savais. À l'époque, je savais que c'était absolument historique. J'aurais ces moments où j'étais dans les réunions de l'équipe d'imagerie.

Et je suis devenu membre officiel en octobre 1983 lorsque je suis allé travailler pour Brad Smith à l'Université …

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: … de l'Arizona –

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: … Juste après les études supérieures. J'ai donc participé à tous les projets depuis lors pour Uranus et (00:13:00) Neptune. Et je me souviens juste des moments où la conversation aurait pu tourner à quelque chose dans lequel je n'étais pas intimement impliqué. Et donc peut-être que je me suis assoupi ou que je rêvais. Mais j'avais ces moments où j'étais, j'avais l'impression de planer au-dessus de regarder ce groupe de personnes parler de ce qui allait se passer clairement à travers le système solaire.

Mat Kaplan: (des rires)

Carolyn Porco: Et c'était, c'est quelque chose qui sort de la science fiction.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: Mais ça ne l'était pas. C'était réel. Et, et ça se passait. Et ça, c'était tellement pressé. C'était une course comme ça se passait. Nous savions ce qui se passait, nous faisions quelque chose d'historique. Vous ne pouvez explorer le système solaire que pour la première fois, n'est-ce pas? Cela n'arrive qu'une fois. Et donc, juste la mission elle-même, ce qu'elle allait accomplir, ce qu'elle allait dire de nous. En plus, bien sûr, Carl était membre de

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: … L’équipe et lui-même étaient si capables et éloquents d’atteindre les gens et de leur faire savoir (00:14:00) l’importance de cette mission. D'une manière que les scientifiques ne faisaient tout simplement pas à ce moment-là.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: J'attribue également une partie de l'amour pour Voyager à Brad Smith, qui était le chef de l'équipe d'imagerie. Et il était aussi éloquent dans les conférences de presse et, euh, classe, euh, et ça ne faisait pas de mal qu'il ait une belle apparence de star de cinéma. (riant) Je veux dire, vous savez, il commandait et était spirituel. Donc, il avait toutes ces fonctionnalités merveilleuses et pour toutes ces raisons, les gens ont vraiment résonné avec elle. Cela ne me surprend donc pas qu’elle se classe comme la mission la plus populaire. Je pense que c’est l’Apollo 11 du programme planétaire.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: Il a ce genre de stature emblématique. Et peu importe qu'il y ait des missions qui seront plus profondément scientifiques que, euh, scientifiquement productives que le Voyager. Cassini est l'un d'entre eux. Nous sommes allés plus loin. Nous sommes allés plus en détail (00:15:00). Chez Saturne, nous avons été plus complets que le Voyager. Euh, ça n'a pas d'importance. C'était la première et c'était une belle première. Et comme je l'ai dit, cela aurait, euh, euh, fourni aux gens une telle pierre de touche dans leur signification cosmique. Que c'est juste très aimé. Et puis bien sûr, Cassini était spectaculaire au nième degré.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: Et nous avions de meilleurs instruments. Nous étions mieux préparés.

Mat Kaplan: À cause du Voyager.

Carolyn Porco: Oh oui. À cause du Voyager. Je veux dire, même le fait de savoir quels temps d'exposition devaient être dans nos appareils photo était un défi. Mais ce n'était rien comme le Voyager. Je veux dire, Voyager, nous, vous savez, nous ne savions pas, nous trouvions de nouvelles choses et nous nous demandions ce que les expositions devaient être, c'était une grosse affaire. Vous savez, vous ne vouliez pas gaspiller beaucoup d'images lors de plusieurs expositions. C’était un défi, mais après que nous ayons su à peu près quelle était la réflectivité des surfaces et la luminosité, etc., sur Cassini (00:16:00), nous étions beaucoup mieux préparés pour intégrer ces informations dans des modèles.

Mettez les modèles dans notre logiciel et déterminez comment commander les caméras. C'est ce qui se passait dans ma boutique à Cyclops. Nous avons développé tout ce logiciel pour commander les caméras. Vous penseriez qu'en tant que scientifiques, nous serions si objectifs et presque froids à propos de tout cela.

Mat Kaplan: Je ne voudrais pas mais beaucoup de gens le font.

Carolyn Porco: Et nous n'étions pas. (rire) Oh, certainement, vous savez, je regarderais une photo et je serais tellement surpris. La beauté de ça, c'est ce qui me ferait toujours passer pour une boucle, c'est juste à quel point c'était beau-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: … Et comment détaillé. Nous avions un excellent système de caméra et cela nous a vraiment bien servi.

Mat Kaplan: Ces images Nous continuons à tirer une grande science des images, des données de cette mission. Mais ils sont simplement impressionnants.

Carolyn Porco: Bien, OK. Nous ne pouvons donc pas en assumer tout le mérite, car Saturne est, vous le savez, le plus beau système (00:17:00), la plus belle planète. C'est un, c'est emblématique, vous voyez. Vous savez, quand, quand voyez-vous quelqu'un comme dans la science-fiction essayer de représenter une planète dans un autre système stellaire et le faire sans bague?

Mat Kaplan: Ouais. (rires) Tu as raison.

Carolyn Porco: Vous savez, chaque fois, il y a toujours un anneau autour de lui parce que c'est tellement surnaturel.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: Cet anneau est si précis. C'est mathématiquement précis. Donc, cela défie presque notre idée de ce qu'est Mère Nature. Mère Nature est un peu partout sur la Terre, elle est douce et moelleuse et, vous savez, les choses ne le sont pas, tout est dans un continuum. Vous ne voyez pas les choses liées avec une précision extrême, sauf si un humain y est entré et l'a fait. Eh bien, Mère Nature a fait cela avec les anneaux de Saturne. Et c'est, et c'est juste magnifique. Que, tu sais, ils éblouissent sous tous les angles, peu importe comment tu les regardes.

Et si surprenant, vous savez, nous avons fait cela, délibérément, j’ai planifié cette séquence de regarder les anneaux pendant que Cassini traversait (00:18:00) la plaine des anneaux.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: Alors tu dois les voir. Vous regardez au-dessus des anneaux et vous devez les voir. Retournez, retournez, alors vous êtes dans la plaine du ring, puis vous les voyez de dessous. C'est l'un des miens, c'est aussi simple que possible. Mais c'est l'un de mes clips vidéo les plus préférés. Parce que vous avez du mal à croire que c'est naturel.

Mat Kaplan: A- à un angle, ils sont éclairés par l'avant, par derrière Cassini. Moi non, attends.

Carolyn Porco: Non, à un angle, ils sont éclairés directement par le soleil.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: D'accord. Et qu’à l’autre angle, lorsque vous êtes au-dessous de la plaine du ring, ou lorsque vous êtes du côté opposé au soleil, alors, vous ne les voyez que parce que la lumière se diffuse à travers le anneaux, l'anneau plaine. Il est dispersé parmi les particules de l'anneau et sort.

Mat Kaplan: C'est ce que je voulais en venir.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais.

Mat Kaplan: Et au fond, ils sont rallumés.

Carolyn Porco: Ils sont rallumés.

Mat Kaplan: Mais ils sont énormes parce que la bague elle-même façonne la lumière.

Carolyn Porco: Euh, ça se disperse et ça…

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: … C'est comme regarder à travers un écran dans certaines parties des anneaux. C'est comme regarder à travers un écran. C'est, quand vous êtes dans cette géométrie, si l'anneau (00:19:00) est vraiment épais, de sorte que peu de lumière passe à travers-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: … Il peut être difficile de faire la différence entre un anneau épais et un espace vide. C'est à ce moment-là que vous devez vraiment aimer mettre votre casquette scientifique pour essayer de tout comprendre. Mais, vous savez, ce que je veux dire, avant même que vous n’y arriviez, c’est juste ce mélange de vues incroyables et magnifiques. Et le public aime les couleurs. J'aimerais raconter une petite anecdote à propos de Voyager.

Mat Kaplan: S'il te plaît, ouais.

Carolyn Porco: Dans Voyager, mes jours étaient après Saturne, c’était donc Uranus et Neptune. Donc, c'était, vous savez, 1983, fin 1983-1989. J'avais déjà assisté à des conférences de presse pour étudiants diplômés après le survol de Voyager Saturn. Et il y avait un membre de la société de presse qui avait, était aussi un astronome amateur. Il s'appelait Andrew Young.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: Et il a eu le cas de l'équipe d'imagerie Voyager pour ne pas avoir produit les images en couleurs vraies. Et je suis d'accord avec lui (00:20:00). J'étais un peu abasourdi par le fait que cela se passait, que les images étaient assemblées de manière si bâclée. Euh, bien sûr, vous devez comprendre ce que nous avons fait, ce que j'ai fait avec les caméras Cassini. Et traitez délibérément des images tous les jours pendant une longue période. Mon travail consistait à obtenir une image chaque jour et une légende chaque jour. C’était comme diriger un magazine d’information –

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: … Un magazine d'informations quotidien. Ils ne l'ont pas fait sur Voyager. Chez Voyager, les images ont été traitées uniquement pour les conférences de presse. Ce n’est donc que pendant cette brève période de temps, telle qu’une semaine, 10 jours environ, que les gens passaient, et je pense que les processeurs d’image de l’époque se trouvaient à JPL. Ils étaient en train de le jeter ensemble.

Mat Kaplan: Je connais des histoires à propos de ce type. J'ai rencontré quelques-uns d'entre eux.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais.

Mat Kaplan: Certains d'entre eux très jeunes.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais. Alors, ils jetaient ensemble des images, euh, juste pour que le scientifique ait quelque chose à présenter lors d'une conférence de presse. Mais je me souviens (00:21:00) Andrew Young. Je me souviens de ses critiques. Je suis totalement d'accord avec lui, euh, que ça pourrait être tellement mieux fait. Lorsque j’ai été choisi pour diriger l’équipe d’imagerie de Cassini, c’était l’un de mes points cardinaux. Nous allions faire beaucoup mieux le traitement des images. J'allais prendre grand soin de ça. J'allais les produire en vraies couleurs dans la mesure du possible. Parce que c'est un défi énorme. Et vous ne pourriez jamais vraiment y arriver.

Et j'allais prendre une autre de mes quêtes cardinales. Au début, nous allions saisir toutes les occasions possibles pour produire des images simplement parce qu'elles étaient belles et pour produire des clips vidéo. Nous allions avoir, je veux dire, nous allons passer à un système dynamique. Je voulais transformer la caméra autant que possible en un enregistreur vidéo.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: Euh, et donc, nous l'avons fait aussi et tout cela a été immensément populaire.

Mat Kaplan: Et c'est toujours payant. Je veux dire, il y a ce long métrage, qui, je pense, est sorti maintenant. J'ai effectivement contribué à (00:22:00). C'est à travers les anneaux de Saturne, je pense. Je vais devoir vérifier le titre. Mais utilisez vos images qui sont toutes authentiques.

Carolyn Porco: Eh bien, qui l'a produit?

Mat Kaplan: Je ne me souviens plus de son nom, mais je ne suis pas en contact avec lui depuis plusieurs années.

Carolyn Porco: Est-ce, est-ce celui-là où c'est juste, une séquence de séquence rapide d'images brutes?

Mat Kaplan: Euh non. Je ne pense pas. Je ne pense pas.

Carolyn Porco: C'est plutôt cool aussi. Si vous regardez simplement nos images brutes et même, même si, vous savez, les défauts de la caméra n’ont pas été éliminés, comme je l’ai dit, c’était un enregistrement visuel de nos voyages. C'est ce que j'avais l'impression de faire.

Mat Kaplan: Vous avez juste mentionné en passant, même si vous n'y avez pas fait référence. L'image qui est si emblématique pour nous tous ici et pour les autres peuples du monde entier. Euh, le point bleu pâle.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais.

Mat Kaplan: Parce que vous avez apparemment participé à cela.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais je sais. C'est, ce n'est pas souvent, euh, mentionné. Mais c’est pourquoi ces jours-ci montrent clairement que c’était, Carl mérite tout le crédit qui lui revient pour que cela se produise. Mais, mais je sais que, dès que j’ai été ajoutée à l’équipe d’imagerie à la fin (00:23:00) 1983, j’avais commencé à trahir l’idée que nous devions tourner la sonde et prendre une photo du la terre et les autres planètes.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: Juste parce que ce serait une chose merveilleuse de voir notre planète de loin et j'ai aussi pensé, ne serait-il pas cool de montrer à quoi notre système solaire ressemblerait-il à un extraterrestre venant de l'extérieur?

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: Vous savez, nouvelle perspective. C'est, tout est question de perspective. Je me souviens très bien être entré dans le bureau de Brad Smith. Donc, cela aurait pu être fin 1983, début 1984 et lui dire: "Vous savez, je pense que ce serait vraiment bien de prendre une photo de la terre et des autres planètes." Et il a dit: "Eh bien, si tu as", tout de suite, tout de suite, ce n'était pas, "Oh, quelle idée folle. C'était, oh, je ne sais pas s'ils nous auraient laissé-

Mat Kaplan: Hein?

Carolyn Porco: … fais ça? Il a dit tout de suite, il a dit: "Eh bien, vous savez, si vous voulez faire cela, vous devez tourner le vaisseau spatial de manière à mettre le soleil du point de vue des caméras. Vous mettez le soleil derrière l’antenne à gain élevé (00:24:00) pour que le détecteur de la caméra ne soit pas éclairé par la lumière du soleil, car si vous envisagez de prendre des images de la Terre à partir du système solaire extérieur, la Terre être très proche du soleil. "

Mat Kaplan: Ouais. Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: … "Et vous brûlez les caméras." Donc, en ce qui me concerne, c'est lui qui a eu cette idée. Et puis, j'ai probablement commencé en 1984. Vous savez, notre équipe d’imagerie se réunissait trois fois par an. Cela aurait donc pu être le début de 1984, comme lors de la prochaine réunion d'équipe à laquelle je suis allé parler aux gens. Voir si c'était possible et je sais qu'il y avait un scepticisme énorme et je sais-

Mat Kaplan: La résistance, non?

Carolyn Porco: Eh bien, ce n'était pas au niveau, euh, d'une résistance, oui. Je veux dire, juste-

Mat Kaplan: (des rires)

Carolyn Porco: En un mot, je dirais, il y avait de la résistance. Et j'ai été surpris, mais même Ed Stone a dit: "Eh bien, vous savez, vous ne pourrez probablement pas faire cela à moins de pouvoir y trouver une science."

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: Vous savez, juste pour prendre une photo de la Terre (00:25:00), ils ne permettraient pas que cela se produise. Le projet ne permettrait pas que cela se produise. Maintenant, laissez-moi, laissez-moi juste dire entre parenthèses ici. Le Voyager faisait partie de ces missions et il est suffisamment tôt pour qu'il soit absolument sacré de toujours garder l'antenne à haut gain pointant vers la Terre et ayant un lien constant avec la Terre. Parce que s’il craignait que l’engin spatial soit retiré de sa ligne, vous ne pourrez peut-être pas le récupérer.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: Donc, ce n'était pas comme si nous allions retirer le vaisseau spatial pour sa ligne. Juste pour quelque chose comme ça. Tu ferais mieux d'avoir une très bonne raison pour cela. J'étais un nouveau membre de l'équipe. Et je n'étais pas du genre à vouloir être le petit, euh, David au grand Goliath.

Mat Kaplan: (des rires)

Carolyn Porco: Alors je suis parti et j'ai pensé, eh bien, j'ai pensé à la science qui prenait une photo quand je savais que la Terre allait être un pixel. En fait maintenant, il aurait pu y avoir de la science. Mais, euh, je ne pouvais penser à rien (00:26:00) jusqu'à ce que je sois parti et ai eu l'idée d'essayer d'obtenir, de capturer les pelles à poussière, les pelles à poussière-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: … Cela venait d'être découvert dans la ceinture d'astéroïdes par le vaisseau spatial IRAS. Euh, et c'est ce que j'ai fini par faire. C'est l'observation que j'ai fini par faire. Mais je suppose que la ceinture d'astéroïdes était suffisamment éloignée du soleil pour que ce ne soit pas un problème. Tout ce que je dis, c'est que je propose cette idée. J'ai essayé d'intéresser les gens et cela n'a pas fonctionné. Donc en 1988, j’entends dire que Carl est aussi en train de colporter cette idée. Il aurait pu y penser longtemps, bien avant. Mais j'entends dire qu'il pousse cette idée maintenant.

Je pense que je pourrais lui avoir écrit une lettre, euh, qui disait: j'ai appris que vous essayez de faire cela. J'ai essayé de faire cela il y a un moment et je n'ai rien obtenu. Je pense vraiment que cela devrait être fait. Et il répondit fondamentalement: "Génial. Aidez-moi." (riant) Vous savez, pourquoi ne venez-vous pas aider? (00:27:00) Alors il m'a chargé de déterminer le temps d'exposition pour le-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: … Les images devraient être, euh, et je lui ai répondu. J'ai fait quelques calculs, euh, et lui ai répondu. Euh, les lui ont envoyé. C'était beaucoup de travail pour lui de le faire. Il avait le nuage, euh, et il pouvait manœuvrer politiquement pour le faire. Il le devait-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: … allez jusqu'au siège de la NASA.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmatif)

Carolyn Porco: Et moi, je viens d'apprendre récemment qu'Ed Stone l'accompagnait. Il réussit donc à convaincre Ed Stone.

Mat Kaplan: Oh.

Carolyn Porco: Et ils sont allés au siège de la NASA pour demander à la NASA de demander à JPL de le faire. Mais, euh, c’est, vous savez, nous avons attendu que toute la partie planétaire de la mission soit terminée. C'était donc en février 1990. La rencontre entre Neptune et la mission était terminée en août 1989. Et comme vous le savez, l'image est devenue incroyablement populaire. Même si ce n'est pas vraiment une image à regarder, euh, c'était incroyablement populaire (00:28:00) et même la phrase, le point bleu pâle est devenue-

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: … Maintenant synonyme de fraternité planétaire et de protection de l'environnement.

Mat Kaplan: Je l'utilise tout le temps sur, sur ce spectacle.

Carolyn Porco: Cette phrase.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: Eh bien, vous n'êtes pas le seul.

Mat Kaplan: Non (rires) Nous avons beaucoup plus de Carolyn Porco, y compris le moment où nous avons tous fait signe à Saturne. Rester avec nous.

Kate Howells: La Planetary Society est en train de dresser la liste ultime des objectifs de vie des fans de l'espace. Et nous avons besoin de votre aide. Salut. Je suis Kate Howells, responsable de l'engagement communautaire pour la société. Qu'y a-t-il sur votre liste? Les objets à voir absolument dans le ciel nocturne, les destinations les plus impressionnantes, les expériences de toute une vie. Parlez-nous d'eux à planetary.org/spacegoals. Nous les partagerons avec vos compagnons d'âme dans le monde entier. C'est planetary.org/spacegoals. Merci.

Mat Kaplan: Au verso de mon ancienne carte de visite, j'ai cette autre image emblématique que vous aviez encore plus à faire avec-

Carolyn Porco: Oh.

Mat Kaplan: De la terre (00:29:00) vu-

Carolyn Porco: Vu de Cassini.

Mat Kaplan: … De Cassini, exactement.

Carolyn Porco: Avec les bagues.

Mat Kaplan: Avec les bagues.

Carolyn Porco: La version agrandie j'espère, qui est la vraie belle.

Mat Kaplan: Oui.

Carolyn Porco: Oui.

Mat Kaplan: Et moi, je veux dire, d'ailleurs, j'étais aussi à JPL, faisant signe à Saturne et souriant …

Carolyn Porco: D'accord.

Mat Kaplan: … Quand vous avez fait celui-là.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais.

Mat Kaplan: Ce truc frappe un accord avec presque tout le monde. Qu'ils suivent des missions comme celle-ci régulièrement ou non.

Carolyn Porco: Eh bien, je suis tout à fait d’accord, et j’ai appris à quel point les accords sont touchés. I mean, I learned of course in Voyager but when I was selected to be the team leader on Cassini, I, um, another one of those things on my to-do list. Right away was to redo the pale blue dot Voyager picture, only do it better. Now it's not generally known that in the proposal that Carl wrote to the Voyager project, urging them to get this picture done, he wrote that the purpose of the picture was to take an image of earth (00:30:00) awash in a sea of stars.

So the Voyager pale blue dot picture didn't quite turn out like that. You can't see any stars. Actually, the earth is sitting on a beam of light that was scattered in the optics of the canvass. So it's not the most beautiful picture. Of course, it, it's what Carl had to say about it and the way he romanced it that made it so, uh, iconic and really struck, people, people got it. They heard him say that and they got it, why this was an important image. So I wanted to redo it. So busy. Never got a chance to work on it until about, I don't know, when we were in our second extension of the mission.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: When it, I think I probably started thinking about it again, 2010, 2011 and figuring out where to put it in the timeline of images that we were going to take. And I had to piggyback another scientific instruments. Mind you, you can't just go and say, "I want to do this just to do it." (00:31:00) I, I, maybe I was able to do that one or two or three times in the whole mission. It was really a, a difficult sell. I thought a piggyback on someone else's observation. So there was going to be a mosaic made of Saturn when Cassini would be in eclipse.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: Droite? So instead of needing a high gain antenna to shield the sun, we had Saturn to shield the sun, that would be perfect. I managed to convince the, the originators of that mosaic to let us piggyback. But w- you know, while I'm doing this, you know how good ideas just come. They, they just arrive.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: And I just thought, "Wow." Instead of doing what every mission has done since Voyager and what, of course Voyager did was take the picture of the earth and then a week later, two weeks later, release it to the public and say, "Hey, world. While you weren't looking, guess what we did?" I thought, wouldn't it be great if we told the people of the world ahead of time-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … At such and such a (00:32:00) time, such and such a date, we are going to take your picture. Take a picture of all of us from Saturn and invite them to go out at that time and as the picture taking window opens and just contemplate this whole thing. Contemplate being on a planet, a small planet and everyone else on it, all living creatures. How connected we are to all of them and think about their own existence. Think about how unique our planet is in its lushness and its life-giving properties.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: And just, you know, smile at the sheer joy of being alive on a pale blue dot. That kind of thing and that's exactly what we did.

Mat Kaplan: W- where were you at that moment?

Carolyn Porco: It's am- it's amazing to me. I was in Colorado and I was being filmed by the BBC.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: They wanted to come out and capture me while the thing was going on. I have to say that while I was being recorded, (00:33:00) I completely lost track of the fact that I was being recorded, you know. It can be very, I got completely swept up in the whole thing. Like, I just forgot I was being interviewed. And I was as amazed myself at this whole thing as I'm sure everybody else who participated in this was. That I'm looking in that direction. It was daylight but I knew where Saturn was. And I'm thinking, "My God. There's a camera out there. And it's taking a picture of me and it made the solar system so much smaller."

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: And I felt so connected to that thing, not only having been the originator of the idea but just that, that was something humankind had made. A machine out there was taking our picture. So I was amazed by that. I, I really did feel what I wanted everybody else to feel, the sense of connection with everybody else. How important life is, how unique it is in our solar system, how (00:34:00) we have to protect our own planet. All those feelings just washed over me. And it was really a, a great, great moment. We had set up in my shop, Cyclops, had set up a website for people to write in. And tell us what happened.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: And I got lots and lots of responses from people in Asia, in Canada, in South America, in Africa. I mean, just all over and, and it worked just as I had wanted it to. People felt so, um, I don't know, inspired. And one woman called it transcendent. Uh, another guy described how he and his 10-year old daughter did this together and it was, uh, th- they loved it. Everybody just loved it. So, you say strike a chord, it was like the biggest piece of cosmic performance art.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Carolyn Porco: In fact, Brian Eno, uh, gave a talk after me.

Mat Kaplan: (00:35:00) Brian Eno, the great music, uh, uh, musician, producer, composer, yeah.

Carolyn Porco: Oui. He gave a talk after me at this conference called Starmus. And I, I described this thing to him. And it, he who came up with this in, in saying, "Well, that was a great talk. And that must have been the greatest piece of performance I ever," it, I was so glad we did it. And, and it resulted in a beautiful picture of earth and there are stars in the picture. When I first released this picture to the public, I did so at the celebration for Carl Sagan at the Library of Congress-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … That was held in concert with his papers being archived by the LLC.

Mat Kaplan: I am rereading about that right now because I'm talking, I'm reading for the second time. It's not just Sagan's book because I'll be interviewing you as, as I told you-

Carolyn Porco: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Mat Kaplan: … In just a couple of days as we speak. And she talks about that ceremony and how overwhelming it was.

Carolyn Porco: Oh, really?

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: Does she mention the pale blue dot picture?

Mat Kaplan: I'm (00:36:00) afraid not.

Carolyn Porco: No, okay.

Mat Kaplan: But, but it does come up elsewhere in the book.

Carolyn Porco: D'accord. So anyway, I, I mean, I'm sorry I'm talking so long about it but it was a very, very-

Mat Kaplan: Obviously, very meaningful to you.

Carolyn Porco: It-

Mat Kaplan: But it is to so many of us.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais.

Mat Kaplan: I told you. I was standing heavily biased, proud admittedly but not so different-

Carolyn Porco: Where? Where?

Mat Kaplan: At JPL.

Carolyn Porco: Oh, okay.

Mat Kaplan: I was standing in the patio with hundreds and hundreds of people who would all come out, uh, doing the wave and smiling and laughing and listening to music and it was glorious. Ouais. We were told when to look up and roughly where to look. (laughs) But, and, uh, and then of course, to see that image later, itt, it, it's, uh, thrilling still.

Carolyn Porco: It took us, it took us a long time to process that. It was really a lot of work because it's a lot of images that had to be pieced together. But it, it turned out beautifully.

Mat Kaplan: Back to doing science out there at Saturn and why we should go back. I mean, I'm going to, I'm going to ignore Titan and maybe I'll ask you a little bit later about the Dragonfly mission and what you think of that. Why do we need, why else do we need to go (00:37:00) back to Saturn after being out there and seeing this and amazing success of the Cassini mission for so many years?

Carolyn Porco: Well, that's actually a very reasonable question.

Mat Kaplan: Hmm.

Carolyn Porco: And it really, no. It, it really gets to a, an issue that I've been thinking about a lot. And that is, you know, how much, how much longer are we going to continue to exploit the solar system? I mean, how much do we really need to know? These are good questions, you know.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: Lots of resources go into this. And we need to have good reasons. I mean, I think there's lots to continue to do in the solar system. We have to go back to Neptune for example, an ice giant. We, and do-

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: … What we did at Cassini at a place like Neptune. But these are good questions. Why go back? And at Saturn, one of the most profound discoveries we made was this moon, Enceladus. Enceladus is a small moon of Saturn that has, (00:38:00) uh, we found out from 13 years being there has a global ocean with a salinity not too different from that of the earth. By flying through the plume, we also found it had, uh, there's evidence for, uh, large organic compounds. We couldn't measure the organic compounds themselves.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: We didn't have instruments that could do that. But you could work backwards to show that the compounds that were detected actually came from larger compounds. And that's important because you know, the, the, the compounds, the organic compounds of biology like amino acids, they are relatively big. They're not like methane. They're not like acetylene. They're relatively big. So there are relatively big organic compounds in, in the material that is gushing out from Enceladus, uh, forming a, a plume of material.

And that plume is, is fed by geysers (00:39:00) about 101 geysers on the surface. This was actually stuff that my research group and I did to figure out all those geysers. And where they were and what connections they have to the other observations.

Mat Kaplan: And coming out of those tiger stripes. Great, great turn.

Carolyn Porco: Co- they're coming out of four fractures-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … That cross the South Pole terrain, so the South Pole region. I don't want to say it was a surprise. Anyone who says that scientists were so surprised to see this, uh, that's not the correct historical history.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: The narrative really is that people knew there was something going on with Enceladus. Either charge particles were hitting its surface releasing them to form the E ring of Saturn-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative) Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … Which Enceladus is embedded in. That was the common wisdom but there was a paper in 1984, post Voyager. 1984 that said the E ring could possibly be produced by a geyser material that was in the form of a geyser coming from its interior.

Mat Kaplan: (00:40:00) Wow.

Carolyn Porco: So we planned our observations from the beginning to look at the, in the proper orientation so that we would see something like a geyser. And that's what we found. Early 2005, we discovered the plume. And other instruments of course confirmed later there was organic compounds in it or they found later there was organic compounds in it. And they did the whole chemical analysis. But, um, the imaging team and the magnetometer were the instruments that first had anything to say about the existence of the plume.

Mat Kaplan: Do you wish, I mean, Europa Clipper seems to be on track for that other ocean moon, the one going around Jupiter. Do you wish there was a, an Enceladus clipper? Or maybe we should have gone to Enceladus instead of Europa?

Carolyn Porco: Clipper is going to do at Europa what we did with Cassini at Enceladus.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: That's what it's going to do. It's going to bring, uh, the knowledge of Europa up to the same level (00:41:00) of our knowledge on Enceladus. So a lot of what is said about Europa is actually speculation. They don't quite know. We do know on Enceladus because we spent 13 years studying it. So I think the Clipper is going to do very important stuff. It needs to be done.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: Um, I'm not this, I will a- I was, you know, years ago, I was saying we should go back to Enceladus because it's so urgent. Uh, I'm not really disappointed that they're going to go back, uh, Europa with the Clipper mission. But next, we need to do a series, deep dive on Enceladus because Cassini didn't have the instrumentation that could tell you whether or not there was life in Enceladus. And that's the reason why Enceladus was so profoundly interesting and our results were so profound period.

And that is that it points to an ocean that could possibly support life. There was even evidence of hydrothermal activity in the plume-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: If you'd buy one of the insi- instruments. So, (00:42:00) there's tantalizing clues and how long has it been that NASA has set as its goal to find life in the solar system? To find habitable zones? And to determine if life got started? I, I'll tell you. It goes all the way back to the 1958 charter.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: They had in mind to survey the solar system and see if life got started anywhere else. So here we are, this incredible time when we now know there's a moon out there that yes, has a sub surface ocean like many, not many but several do. But it is unique in having that ocean being expressed into space. And it's relatively trivial to just go sample it. We could next ask very pointed questions about whether or not there are any signatures of life in the plume of Enceladus. If we had a mission that could go there and at least go into orbit around Enceladus and, and even better, land on the (00:43:00) surface.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: And instruments that could do better than we could do with Cassini. Like, you know, measure, detect directly if possible large molecules and determine what molecules those are. Not, oh, this one has, you know, is, is 250 atomic mass units. I mean, just really determine what those molecules are. We want to know chemically what's there. Uh, I've been the one pushing this idea for a long time. I think some people think I'm crazy. But I don't and that is that there could be microbes in the f- the frost particles that are in that plume.

Mat Kaplan: Why would that be crazy? I mean there-

Carolyn Porco: Well some, because, bec- because it sounds crazy. Like, i- it sounds maybe like it's, it's stretching too far. But my argument is this, that on earth, just about every frost particle you run into on earth, even in the stratosphere, has a bacterium at its center. Bacteria nucleate (00:44:00) ice particles.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: Uh, you know, frost particles. So-

Mat Kaplan: They actually help to form the ice particles.

Carolyn Porco: They actually help to form the ice particles so it's not-

Mat Kaplan: Sensationnel.

Carolyn Porco: … Crazy that you could ha- and, and there's reasons why you could have microbes if there exist at the hydrothermal vents on the sea floor of Enceladus. How they would get themselves attached to any bubbles that come up, uh, through the water column. That's a common process here on earth. It's called bubble scrubbing.

Mat Kaplan: Hmm.

Carolyn Porco: So it's not out of the question that you could have microbes in the plume probably at the center of the ice particles. So my thing is not only do you want to bring chemical instruments. I doubt they could give you, uh, 100% confidence level that you'd found life. But also, bring a microscope.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: Because if you could get a picture of a, of an organism, even better if they're still alive, a little video, I mean, talk about knocking people's (00:45:00) socks off. So we want to go back to Saturn because we want to go back to Enceladus to see if it is a moon that is forthcoming in telling us where the life got started in, uh, any other place. And it's not, I have to be honest. It, there's a camp of people who think you can't get life started in an ocean. But there's others who say, you know, that you could. Metabolism probably got started in the ocean.

At least that's what they say. So, so, who knows? But, you, you know, this is all about exploration. It's not like-

Mat Kaplan: We won't know until we look.

Carolyn Porco: Uh, right. And if we knew the answer, maybe we wouldn't need to go back.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Carolyn Porco: But we don't know the answer. The clues, the hints are there and it's just like, you know, running the program now, let's get back.

Mat Kaplan: I guess we should move on. Before we leave the Saturnian system though, oh, how do you feel about Dragonfly?

Carolyn Porco: Oh, I was very happy that Dragonfly got selected. Because it's, it's a cool mission design. I had been criticizing the Titan (00:46:00) people for, you know, when they, they talked about missions going back to, to Titan, like we were talking about missions going back to Enceladus. The, their mission seems so ho-hum like it was just a redo of Cassini. But this group came up with a really cool idea, which is this drone basically-

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: … Of putting it in the atmosphere, uh, hopping like, you know, on the surface sampling something.

Mat Kaplan: Very cool.

Carolyn Porco: Get a, oh, very cool. Very cool mission design.

Mat Kaplan: We've talked as if we've heard about it as well. And of course, she's (laughs) uh, very enthusiastic about her project.

Carolyn Porco: Yeah, of course. Of course and, and, um, and it's good. It's good that it's being done by APL and, uh, so, I, I liked it. I was a bit disappointed though that they're not going to get to the lakes and the seas in the north, you know. That's, I mean-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … To, to be able to sample the hydrocarbons that are ponded there in the, in the north, well, there's some in the south, too that we found early on in the mission. But, you know, that would have been really glorious. But I think already, it's somewhat of a (00:47:00) risky mission. So-

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: … I don't think they, they thought they could pull it off. But they're going to sample those areas as I understand it, uh, that you know, our pictures are dark. And we think that that's the hydrocarbon material in the atmosphere just raining down on the surface. So, it'll be interesting to see, you know, what they find. They claim they're going to be going looking for life at least I've heard some of them claim that. I, I think it's a stretch. I think it's a stretch because the temperature's on the surface. There's something like 350 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

They could have a major problem with kinetics getting biotic chemistry going on a place like that. But-

Mat Kaplan: Although I know there are people thinking about this. Like, what kinds of processes could drive biology in that kind of, it does seem far-fetched but yeah.

Carolyn Porco: Well, what I, why I'm excited about it even though I think it's far-fetched to find

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Carolyn Porco: … Evidence of life, I think it's covered with (00:48:00) native organic compounds. Organic compounds that are native to the tiny system. If it never got to life, they could just answer the question. What do organic compounds do in an environment like this? Even that would be extraordinary to know and very helpful. And for people to think about what happens in the run up to life, prebiotic chemistry. So, I was very excited about it.

Mat Kaplan: I can't wait to see the pictures.

Carolyn Porco: That's going to be absolutely fascinating. I hope they have a camera that will be able to take the picture of Saturn through the atmosphere of Titan.

Mat Kaplan: Boy, oh, boy.

Carolyn Porco: Ah.

Mat Kaplan: I've seen artist's concepts like that. But my God.

Carolyn Porco: Oh well then, going back to Chesley Bonestell, yeah. (laughs)

Mat Kaplan: Yeah, right.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais. He didn't know the atmosphere of Titan was opaque. (laughs) But, I mean, not completely opaque-

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: … But very hard to see through.

Mat Kaplan: We're back to images, which have dominated so much of your life and the exploration that you've conducted. What's the right way to manage images? Because I, I, I know that you (00:49:00) have strong feelings or at least you used to about the images that come back that you've worked so hard to create. You talked about some of these challenges with Cassini but also with Voyager. There are, it seems now, a couple camps one that says, no. Put them out raw. Send them all out. And then, another camp that says, no. These need to be studied.

They need to be, they need to be worked with before they are simply released. I mean, where do you come down in this?

Carolyn Porco: Well, this, this was a painful story in, in the development of Cassini, uh, because my team and I thought we were going to have a nine-month proprietary period like everybody else.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais. That's what I've heard.

Carolyn Porco: And then, I think it was 2003, we were told you're going to be releasing your, all your images to the public. And-

Mat Kaplan: Uh-huh.

Carolyn Porco: I had-

Mat Kaplan: So that came from on high.

Carolyn Porco: Oh oui. I, okay. Well, again, let me, maybe I should back up even more and say, I had plans for, you know, (00:50:00) releasing images. We were going to release images. I was going to c- you know, turn them into true color. And we were going to release them. And I knew I'd be doing that but I didn't know then. No one that came up with this crazy idea that we're going to release the raw images to the public. It really created a problem on my team. That Europeans were the ones who were most upset. They felt that they had been promised-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … A nine-month proprietary period. They were afraid people wouldn't get the images and we're going to scoop them after they had put in all this work.

Mat Kaplan: Years of work in case.

Carolyn Porco: Ye- uh, both came. By the time we got into orbit at, at Saturn, it was 14 years of work.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: And the way this all was done was done in a very uncollegial way, I must say. Just, for us to be ordered to do this. So it was, it did not go over well on my team. I personally was not worried about getting scooped from the outs. I was doing planetary rings then and I wasn't so much getting (00:51:00) scooped. I worried about getting scooped from the outside by my, by members of the public or by outside scientists. Because all my competitors were already on the im- on the-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … On, on Cassini.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: I was just concerned that, you know, everyone else was, on Cassini was going to have our images and, and that would be a big problem for us. I had not anticipated that people from the outside would want to process our images just to, for the sake of processing them to make a nice picture. That, that came later and that also surprised me. In the end, the public very much appreciated it. We managed to work out a, a scheduling so that we did get to process things nicely.

And I was very, very pleased that the press ended up being either they would deliberately respectful or they didn't want to see or care about what the members of the public were processing before they actually made a big deal about any image from (00:52:00) Saturn. They waited until we released it. So that was, that was okay. And I was a, as I said, I was happy to see in the end that it did engender a lot of affection in members of the public for Cassini. But w- I will say this.

That we did have enormous problems because those images were also available to our colleagues who used them to help them make discoveries that we, or, or claim they made discoveries.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: And there was no quid, uh, no quid pro quo. There was no reciprocity in that. And that was a very bad thing. And I hope that, um, other projects deal with it better than they dealt with it in, in our case. It, it created a lot of resentment.

Mat Kaplan: Hmm?

Carolyn Porco: A lot of resentment. And it was not a way to treat a major team on a spacecraft mission. The team that was shouldering a lot more work and certainly a, uh, shouldering a lot more of the responsibility of keeping the (00:53:00) mission in the eyes of the public. That was like a big slap in the face.

Mat Kaplan: Very understandable. A big jump back in toward the center of the solar system to Mars. Lots of great stuff happened there. Lots more to come. Uh, including plans to send people there. Uh, we talk every now and then on this show about Elon Musk building his big spaceship. And wanting to establish a human community, a colony if you will, uh, on that planet. You have strong feelings about this.

Carolyn Porco: Oh, you know I have strong feelings about this.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Carolyn Porco: Have you heard me?

Mat Kaplan: A little, a little bit.

Carolyn Porco: Express my strong feelings? Ouais. I think the guy's on drugs.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs) Well, that's a proven fact in at least one case. But, uh-

Carolyn Porco: (laughs) I, I, no, seriously. I think he, maybe he can afford fact checkers but he's not going to terraform Mars. It's not possible.

Mat Kaplan: Well, you agree with our boss about that, Bill Nye. I have a bet with him. I said, "You, you don't think terraforming, maybe in 10, within 10,000 years?" He said no.

Carolyn Porco: Here's, let's, let's (00:54:00) say, let me, let's just get to the facts and I have been informed by people who are on Mars orbiting missions. Recent results show that there are, there is an insufficient amount of CO2 in reservoirs that are not atmospheric to ever get the atmosphere to the point where terraforming would even be possible. So, you know, you've, you've got CO2 already in the atmosphere. We know that's insufficient. But even if you could take the CO2 and the reservoir's under the ground, or on the surface in, I guess the ice caps.

And put them into the atmosphere, it still wouldn't work. So you can't terraform Mars. And besides, why would you want to?

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: Here's where I'm becoming very critical of commercial space. I hear things like mining asteroids will save the earth. Or we need to go to Mars because we're in danger here on earth. We've screwed things up. We're going to get hit (00:55:00) by asteroids. We need another place to go. And of course, the same motives are given for this even crazier notion that we're going to actually colonize another stellar system. Uh, it's not going to happen. These are lovely thoughts. I, I empathize with the people who put f- them forth because they, some of them are younger than me. But some of them are about my age.

I grew up in the '60s. I, it was a Star Trek fan. I love the whole concept of us being a f- a, you know, space fairing civilization, being on the Starship Enterprise. I love the whole thing. It's a wonderful fantasy. It's inspiring but let's get real. It can't happen. It can't happen. And, but we're hearing things like again, Elon saying terraforming Mars. And he's going to, people are going to be living on Mars. People will live on Mars in the same way people live on Antarctica now. There is an outpost there. It's continuously inhabited. It's not continuously (00:56:00) inhabited by the same people.

People aren't living there. They're not giving birth to the next generation there, raising, it's not going to be a multi-generational thing in the Antarctic. And that's the way we will make our way across the solar system. There will be outposts. I had been calling them colonies. I think now, it's better so you're not, don't get confused with the idea of a colony where people live out their lives. And you know-

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: … They, they don't, they don't make their living there or they don't give birth to the next generation. We will see outposts. We could on the moon. Maybe on Mars, I could see it for reasons of scientific research. But to have this idea that humans are going to move off the planet, and that's the way we're going to survive is in fact, irresponsible.

I say these days, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, if you have so many resources that you could talk about putting thousands (00:57:00) of satellites into low earth orbit to connect the remaining four billion people onto the internet, uh, why don't you spend those resources down here? Because we are at a crossroads with regard to our own planet. We are in really very serious trouble. And we could use a little love.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: You know? I, I don't see why they have, those people have to make even more money that anything they do, they want to have it be profitable. It's time to give back. Going to Mars for research purposes, going there because I come to the, the, the Apollo 11, but the Apollo program how inspirational it was.

Mat Kaplan: Human skill in addition to complimenting robots going to these places and establishing perhaps these outposts that you've talked about. Much better word because colony also has political and cultural connotations-

Carolyn Porco: Oh, good. Ouais.

Mat Kaplan: … That a lot of people don't like. (00:58:00) But you do believe that humans have a place out there.

Carolyn Porco: I think they have a place out, uh, certainly scientifically. Uh, you know, the point has been made by others. W- we have tremendously capable robotics. And we, they'll get better and better with AI. But, you know, there's something about having a human there to pick up our lock and say, "Oh, I see this." Or, I, I think there's, there's place for it.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: But I would even say before we do that, let's make sure the earth is secure. It may be time to just rethink this whole thing and, and just clean up our act at home first. You know, there's no, there's no Planet B. The idea that there's a Planet B is just, uh, you know, it's fantasy. We are part of our planet. It is part of us. We evolved here. We are intimately woven into the web of life that is here. And to even undertake, physically undertake, physiologically undertake (00:59:00) any of these things we're talking about is a strain on the human body. Here's another thing that I laugh at.

I just went on and on about true color and how important it was to me to process our images in true color to give people a sense of what it was really like. Even in doing that, by the way, you have to cheat a little. But, uh, put that aside for the moment. I'm wondering if Elon Musk thinks it would be great to go to Mars because he's seen the pictures that people have produced of Mars. And they are extremely processed. The contrast is enha- is, is enhanced. The colors are enhanced. They look like Sedona.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: If you were really there on Mars, it would be very low contrast. Even on a good day, the atmosphere would be very hazy. You know, Elon might not like it so much.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Carolyn Porco: So, let's get real about this and, and please, you know, love your fellow earthlings. Love the earth. That's my motto these days. Love the earth.

Mat Kaplan: I couldn't agree more. I just hope that we can continue (01:00:00) to explore the solar system as we fix the terrible things that, uh, are happening down here on this planet. And, and what you said I think made me think of your, your friend, your colleague, maybe even your mentor, Carl Sagan.

Carolyn Porco: Yeah?

Mat Kaplan: I want to come back to him in a second.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais.

Mat Kaplan: But I got one more before we bring in all the way back home to Carl. You think Pluto is a planet?

Carolyn Porco: (laughs) No.

Mat Kaplan: Oh oui. We're going there. You'll want to stay for Pluto and Carolyn Porco's view of the great planet debate along with her memories of Carl Sagan.

Casey Dreier: I know you're a fan of space because you're listening to Planetary Radio right now. But if you want to take that extra step to be not just a fan but an advocate, I hope you'll join me, Casey Dreier, the Chief Advocate here at The Planetary Society at our annual Day of Action this February 9th and 10th in Washington DC. That's when members from across the country come to DC and meet with members of Congress face to face and advocate for space. To learn (01:01:00) more, go to planetary.org/dayofaction.

Carolyn Porco: No. Pluto is not a planet. Never was a planet. It just was, you know, it suffered a mistaken identity for a very long period of time. And people got so attached to the idea that it caused this big commotion but, no. It's not a planet and that doesn't make it any less interesting, uh, than it is or it should be. He- here's the thing about this whole, this whole debate. The word planet as shown by several people but the latest really detailed work, the one that really kind of cleaned up the slightly misbegotten IAU attempt at this-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … Uh, at this topic was worked on by Jean-Luc Margot at UCLA. He showed that the bodies that we call the planets now, the eight of them in our solar system are the ones that have sculpted our solar system. They're the ones that have-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … Cleaned out their orbital corridors (01:02:00) and that's why we see eight distinct objects and not a disc of debris. He also showed and, and the exoplanet people were waiting for something like this. He has shown that if you use the same criterion that produces, shows that eight of our planets are those, um, sculptors. You take that same criterion and you apply it to other stellar systems, you show that, that some large, very large number, 95, 99, I forget, percent of the exoplanets are also, uh, also fit that criterion.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: So here's the thing. What this really means is that when the Greeks thousands of years ago looked up at the sky and they saw this wandering, stellar-looking things, uh, and they called them planets, what they really were seeing were bodies that were dominant in the chronology of the solar system.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: And that's why they saw only eight of them. (01:03:00) And now, we are like the Greeks looking out at the exoplanets. All we see are little planets so we don't have any detail on them yet. So we're equally ignorant about them as the Greeks were about our planets. And what do we, what we're seeing are those objects that have sculpted out their solar systems. So, even if there was no word for this class of bodies that has been dominant, dynamically dominant in their solar systems. Even if there was no word, we'd have to invent a word for them.

Because whenever anybody on a computer tries to simulate the evolution of a solar system or a stellar system, this concept of a body that clears out its orbital corridor is central. So we would need a word anyway. But we have that word, it's called planet.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Carolyn Porco: So there's no sense in trying to extend planet to other criteria like roundness or anything. (01:04:00) This category needs to remain the same.

Mat Kaplan: What about the sort of compromise term? That a lot of people have adopted? A dwarf planet? Not just for Pluto but Siri's and some of those other objects that have been found in the Kuiper belt.

Carolyn Porco: Well, dwarf planet makes no sense when you think about it. Because how can anything be a dwarf of a category that it is not a member of? Droite? Another word needs to be created but here's another thing. I don't think the roundness is a sensible criterion. Because you never really know if it's round. And whether it's round, whether it's in hydrostatic equilibrium will depend on its composition. There's other ways to look at categorizing bodies according to their geophysical properties. Uh, and I think of s- someone I know is, is going to be working on this.

So I won't make any mention of it yet. On one hand, I'm sort of sympathetic that people want to be able to talk about (01:05:00) large-ish bodies. But I'm not sympathetic to a lot of justifications that I've heard. Some of them go like, look at Pluto. Look how complex its surface is. Well, complexity is not something that you can use to categorize anything because there's complexity on every spatial scale. Complexity is an outcome of our universe. It's everywhere to be found. So its scale and variant, you can't use that. Another is look at Pluto. It's got satellites.

It looks like a miniature solar system. Well, asteroids have satellites. That's another scale and variant pro- problem, uh, process. So you can't, you can't use that to say it's got to be a planet. So, I just think if this group of people, uh, interested in natural or inherent geophysical characteristics, uh, wants a word, they just, should invent another word. But planet is taken and it's already well-justified.

Mat Kaplan: So you know I'm going to hear from people, of course. And I suspect the debate (01:06:00) will continue. Uh, here and elsewhere with excellent people on both sides. But I know that you in spite of all of this have marveled at those gorgeous images of Pluto returned by New Horizons.

Carolyn Porco: Oh, I love them. I mean, it really was, I was, I was, of course, eager to see was it going to look like Triton?

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: Because they're kind of kissing cousins. Uh, Triton was captured from the outer solar system into orbit around Neptune. Uh, excuse me, from a heliocentric orbit into orbit around Neptune. So I was expecting that it would, uh, it would look like but I was half hoping it wouldn't because then it would be more exciting. And it kind of like split the difference because there are ways in which it looks like Triton. There are, of course, because it's also an icy body. It's in a cold place. It's got nitrogen on the surface.

It has things in common with Triton but it also had a lot of really, really unusual features like the conve-

Mat Kaplan: I'll say, yeah.

Carolyn Porco: … The convective pattern in, I, I don't know that (01:07:00) terminology. But there was a big flat area. It had these things that look like the top of convection cells. It's really the convection of the ice. And, and the pictures were just really, really beautiful. They did a beautiful job with the instrumentation and so on.

Mat Kaplan: Gorgeous, yeah.

Carolyn Porco: Uh, yeah. So, so I get it. But it, but you don't look at something like that and say, "Oh, it's so beautiful. It's so complex. It should be called a planet." That is not the way we do things in science. We don't base it on, "Oh, it's so beautiful." Then I hear this, these inane things. Je suis désolé. You know, I, I'm on, I'm on my roll now.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Carolyn Porco: Like, like, oh, we don't want to disappoint the members of the public. Well, a- as you know, I am all about informing the public of what we do and getting them inspired to feel a part of it. But the members of the public should not be telling scientists how to do their science any more than a member of the public should stand behind your dentist while she's drilling in your mouth and (01:08:00) say, "I think you should go a half inch back and three inches down." They shouldn't be telling us how to categorize things. We love them. We want them to, you know, to enjoy what we do.

But when push comes to sh- shove, scientists are scientists for a reason. You got to let us do our job.

Mat Kaplan: Keep those cards and letters coming, everybody. And you have done more than your share of communicating what our boss calls the passion, beauty and joy, the wonder of our solar system. We open this conversation talking about you doing stuff with, uh, StarTalk. You clearly believe very strongly in this. And you also said Carl Sagan was a pioneer in doing this. As a scientist who cared about communicating the passion he felt to the public, you were a friend, a colleague. What were the most important things that you got out of your relationship with, with Carl?

Carolyn Porco: Well, out of my relationship with Carl, I, (01:09:00) I was somewhat of a mentoree of his. Not, not, I wasn't a student of his. I never did any research with him.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: But I felt, we were on the Voyager imaging team together.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah, as you said.

Carolyn Porco: Actually, I first, I first met him when I was an undergraduate and he came through our university. This is Stony Brook University to give a talk about, um, Mariner 9. And the students got to meet him. I got to meet him then. But then of course, I met him later on as a, when I was a graduate student at Caltech. And met him at conferences and then of course we ended up on the imaging team together. And I felt that the man had my back. There were times when I, I think he felt someone was rude to me or said something to me that was really inappropriate. This is at a meeting.

In his very Carl way, you know, very gracious, very maybe even witty, very calm, very measured way but he would defend me. And basically, not tell the guy, "Oh, you're being such a (01:10:00) jerk." You know that's (laughs) that's something I might do.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Carolyn Porco: He would just, he would just, you know, make it clear that that was a, you know, uh, not an appropriate statement, wasn't even accurate. So that was wonderful. And he, he would, uh, also compliment me when, you know, he thought I had done something well. So that was lovely to know that Carl Sagan's looking out for you. I also learned I just watched the way that he conducted himself as a scientist in combat. Sitting around a table when there's like heated discussion, he was always very measured there and very calm. And he would be the guy that would, I don't know if it was his voice, his bearing.

I don't know but he just had that thing he could bring tempers down. He just was very principled in the way he conducted himself. And so I use him as an example of what a scientist really should and could be. Kind of like the, there's this phrase, the (inaudible (01:11:00) 01:11:00). Like the beautiful ideal, you know.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: That, that shiny thing that-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … You know, you aspire to or that, that's what Carl was like. And he wasn't, he, he was pretty much that way personally, too. Like what you saw on television is what you got. Not that I didn't see him like, you know, get irritated with his daughter or whatever. So he was human but he was also just a wonderful, wonderful man. And I think he deserves all the affection and accolades that he's received, uh, during his life and since. Because he was, um, he was that. He was, he was the, the real McCoy.

Mat Kaplan: So it must have been quite an honor when you were asked to help out with the production of the movie, Contact based on his book, well on the character of Ellie Arroway, the, the central character in the story.

Carolyn Porco: Oh, it was, it was a, a complete surprise. I, I didn't realize it until later that there was, I was at Cornell for an imaging team meeting (01:12:00) that I was holding there. Because I had team members at Cornell. And he invited me to have dinner with him and, uh, Annie at their house. And you know, you could-

Mat Kaplan: Andrew Ying, of course. Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: … Andrew Ying. In fact, oh, gosh. A- uh, Carl wanted me to meet Annie, you know. He said, "I think you two are going to like each other." And it turned out, we're still friends. It was great. He was very, very right about that. So we were having dinner and as you can imagine, the conversation was very wide-ranging. Everything from, you know, uh, SETI and, uh, the pale blue dot and women in science and so many things. It wasn't until after he had invited me to be a consultant on the main character, Ellie Arroway in the, the movie that I realized I was probably being interviewed-

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Carolyn Porco: … At that dinner.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: He probably wanted to know, you know, would she be good at this? And, and I'll never forget. He called me up and he said, "Out of all the people we know, out of all the women scientists we know, we think that you come closest to (01:13:00) being what we want to portray-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … On the screen." So, uh, I was of course delighted. It didn't take me a microsecond to, to agree to that. So, I've read the book again because I had read it long ago. And then I went to this, this meeting of the director at the time, they ended up getting a different director. But the director at the time, George Miller, the executive producer, Lynda Obst and Carl and Annie and someone to take notes. It was great. They just peppered me with questions. You know, if you were in this kind of a situation, how would you feel? What was your life like?

Uh, why do you, did you get into science? Why do you have long hair when all of the women have cut their hair?

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Carolyn Porco: Obviously, what they were trying to do was just lend authenticity to what they were, were making, this film that they were making. Uh, so everyone had a great time. I was told it really inspired them. And the plan was, for me to (01:14:00) meet with Jodie Foster. She was going to kind of shadow me for a day or two. And get and talk to her, she was going to pick my brains. And so there was about a year when the people at Warner Bros would call me up and say, "Oh, quick. Give us your schedule for the next two months."

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: Because we want to find a time when we can hook you up with-

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: … With Jodie. And so, I do it and then two months would go by and nothing and would happen. And then they'd call me again, same thing. And this went on about three or four times. And I remember calling Carl up and saying, "Carl, what's going on here?" And here's another thing I'll never forget. He'll say, how did he put this? It was just so Carl and just hysterical. The section of the American Astronomical Society that's devoted to planetary scientists is called the Division of Planetary Scientists.

Mat Kaplan: DPS.

Carolyn Porco: The DPS. He said to me, "Hollywood makes the DPS look like the paradigm of fascist order." (laughing)(01:15:00) So, so anyway, I never got to be with Jodie Foster but I was told by Lynda Obst that she in the end used Carl as her role model. And she did a fa-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … They did a fabulous job.

Mat Kaplan: I thought so. I, and I, I can certainly see some elements of, of your character in what Jodie Foster brought to that wonderful character at the center of that movie.

Carolyn Porco: D'accord. So you tell me what? What characteristics?

Mat Kaplan: Oh, her independence. Uh, the enormous curiosity, the passion that she brought to her work.

Carolyn Porco: Her feistiness.

Mat Kaplan: Her feistiness, absolutely.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: Ouais. So I think that's probably what they wanted. Um, I love that film so much. It wasn't of course, it didn't capture everything that was in Carl's book. As far as the story-

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: … What's in Carl's book was better. But uh, and I regretted that they didn't, we talked about this. I asked him, "Are you going to, how are you going to deal with the, the pi? The, the, you know-

Mat Kaplan: At the end (01:16:00) of the book, right.

Carolyn Porco: … At the end of the book, pi and the message.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: Please, you've got to put that in the movie. And they said, "We just don't think anyone will get it."

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: So they didn't put that in the, in the movie.

Mat Kaplan: And I, I love the end of the book with that and I won't give it away because I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who've seen the movie but not read the book. So read the book.

Carolyn Porco: Oh, read the book. Really read the book. And it's so obviously Carl. I asked Carl directly, like twice. Now once he offered and another time I asked him, who is this character based on, you know?

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: And he said, "Well, i- it's really based on me," meaning himself. You know, the voice of Ellie is Carl's voice in talking about the approach to science, of the conflict between religion and science. And all that stuff that is said in, that she says or what she espouses is all Carl. That's his voice. But I think what he did was he just pulled (01:17:00) together like, you know, bits and pieces of various people-

Mat Kaplan: Little of Jill Charter, little of you, a lot of his own voice. Some of Annie as well, Annie.

Carolyn Porco: Oh, I think it's mostly Annie.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais.

Carolyn Porco: I think it's mostly Annie. Um, but I think the, I don't know what you would call it, the accoutrements, you know, like I went to graduate school at Caltech and I have long hair and I'm feisty. Uh, Jill's father died when she was young apparently. I think he got that from her. I know that there are scenes in the book that, uh, come out of Annie's life, you know.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Carolyn Porco: And I think the relationship between the two in the book, they, they took a lot of their own relationship and put it in the book. So I think of Ellie as kind of a composite character. But really, if you're hellbent on thinking of Ellie Arroway as a single person, then she's Carl Sagan and drag.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs) That's great. Um, (01:18:00) this conversation has been more fun and every bit as feisty. Maybe more so-

Carolyn Porco: (laughs)

Mat Kaplan: … Than I had hoped. Merci. You need to hit the road. I know you're headed up north here in California.

Carolyn Porco: I'm headed up north, yeah. But this was fun. I'm glad I did it.

Mat Kaplan: Oh, me, too.

Carolyn Porco: It's true. I haven't, I haven't-

Mat Kaplan: Come back.

Carolyn Porco: We've, I've come back. (laughs)

Mat Kaplan: Thank you, Carolyn.

Carolyn Porco: Well, thank you, Mat. This was fun.

Mat Kaplan: It is time for What's Up on Planetary Radio. And, uh, we are joined by the chief scientist for The Planetary Society. Bruce Betts is in the parking lot of the Planetary Society. Hey there. There's a little black spot on the sun today.

Bruce Betts: There is a little black spot on the sun.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Bruce Betts: Désolé. Désolé. I told people I wouldn't sing. Um, okay.

Mat Kaplan: Especially on the phone.

Bruce Betts: Ouais. We're, we're out here looking at the, uh, Mercury transit using our proper safety filters. So some, uh, great Planetary Society volunteers. And we've, uh, checked out that indeed, there is a little black spot on the sun today. And it is moving across the (01:19:00) sun as Mercury moves between, oh, there's a bus. That's not in front of the sun though.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Bruce Betts: As Mercury, uh, has moves across our vision, as we look over to, uh, the sun from earth.

Mat Kaplan: Glad to hear that you're out there joined by other folks. Uh, take a look at this. And it's no wonder I couldn't see it in my solar binoculars because it's really tiny.

Bruce Betts: It is. It's, it's, very tiny. I've been trying to take pictures just with my camera with a proper solar filter. And it's right on the, on them yet. I get a black smudge go with the bigger cells go so it's quite clear. Could you see it through your telescope?

Mat Kaplan: Ouais. I could, I could. It's just really tiny. (laughs)

Bruce Betts: Small planet, really far away.

Mat Kaplan: What else is up in the night sky? Or the day sky?

Bruce Betts: We've got to mean night sky. We're in the early evening. We're getting super bright Venus starting to rise, uh, low in the West shortly after sunset and above it is bright Jupiter. Uh, they'll be closing in on each other. And we've (01:20:00) also got Saturn still to the upper left of those. And then in the morning sky, in the East, we've got, uh, Mars looking reddish but not super bright. Mercury's hard to see in the middle of the night right now because (laughs) it's right in front of the sun, man.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs) I'm going to wait for that Mars transit. When's that happening again? (laughs)

Bruce Betts: Well first, you're going to have to get us someplace farther out than Mars.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Bruce Betts: And so, you can do that. Uh, if you have a Siri or, uh, towards Jupiter and then, uh, it's not happening. No. Sorry.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Bruce Betts: So we move on actually to this freaking space history. And it was 50 years ago that Apollo 12 launched and landed on the moon, becoming a second mission to land humans on the moon.

Mat Kaplan: We heard from Jason Davis about that last week.

Bruce Betts: And you can check out his web page on our website at planetary.org that, uh, on the Apollo 12 mission. So we've got a gang in the parking lot ready to help (01:21:00) me out. Et c'est parti. One, two, three.

Jay Pasachoff: (inaudible 01:21:02)

Bruce Betts: D'accord. It's good. That was really good. (laughs) Thank you.

Mat Kaplan: Tell everybody I say hi.

Bruce Betts: Mat says hi.

Speaker 7: Hey, Mat.

Speaker 8: Hey, Mat.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Bruce Betts: So the next Mercury transit, next Mercury transit is 2032. The next one visible from the US, 2049.

Mat Kaplan: Sensationnel. D'accord. It's a date.

Bruce Betts: There's about 13 or 14 per century but they come kind of clumped. But hey, it's better than the next Venus transit being, you know, like 2117. We move on to the contest and I ask you what comet did Mariner 10 about in 1973. How'd we do, Mat?

Mat Kaplan: Oh, we did great, I think because, uh, that Sasha Sagan interview of a couple of weeks ago was so popular. We heard from a lot of, uh, first time listeners and, and first time inference as well. And what a lot of them told us was, that you were (01:22:00) off by a little bit. Said apparently, that data came back a month later?

Bruce Betts: People often say I'm off.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Bruce Betts: But it's usually by more than a little bit.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Bruce Betts: So I'll take it as a victory.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Bruce Betts: I don't know. I trust our listeners. So, uh, I was using the Trajan calendar. A little now-

Mat Kaplan: Oh, of course.

Bruce Betts: … Uh, Trajan calendar. Uh-

Mat Kaplan: Yeah, which is why it's, it's, so, which is why it's so hard to make an appointment with you. (laughing)

Bruce Betts: No. That's not why, Mat.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs) So I bet you want to hear about our winner.

Bruce Betts: What, what a, yeah. What else did we learn?

Mat Kaplan: Chosen by random.org, our winner and he's a first time winner, first time entering the contest, too. Eric Robertson in Cleveland, Ohio where the Cuyahoga River burns slowly to the sea.

Bruce Betts: (laughs)

Mat Kaplan: Indeed said (laughing) that it was comet C/1973 E1 Kohoutek.

Bruce Betts: Ouaip. Ouais. And it was, uh, Carolyn says, may have also said it was the first comet (01:23:00) a spacecraft returned a data about.

Mat Kaplan: And we did hear that from a lot of people. And a big disappointment to a whole lot of people who are, uh, alive and looking up at the time. Because it was supposed to be put on this big show and it just did not.

Bruce Betts: Oui. I, I was one of the ones disappointed. And, uh, it, but it helps them teach an important lesson, not to over hype things when you really don't know what's happening. And I'm guessing it was not the astronomers who did that.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais. I, Eric, you are going to receive that copy of Sasha Sagan's book, For Small Creatures Such as We. It's a terrific book along with a 200-point iTelescope.Net astronomy account. So congratulations, Eric. Daniel Sorkin in New York. Comet Kohoutek may have disappointed but Planetary Radio never does. Ad astra.

Bruce Betts: Ouais. (laughing)

Mat Kaplan: Mark Little. Mariner 10 discovered that Mercury has a helium atmosphere but he really wants me to say it like this. Mariner 10 has a helium (01:24:00) atmosphere. (laughs)

Bruce Betts: I don't think it's thick enough to really alter your voice but okay.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs) No. I'd be lucky-

Bruce Betts: I mean, maybe.

Mat Kaplan: … If it sounded that way. Uh, Zachary Lupin, last week's winner, he mentioned that you did a couple of weeks ago and you put this question out there. I think you did anyway. Don't forget to mention the science team was led by Planetary Society co-founder, Bruce Murray.

Bruce Betts: Indeed. Uh, he was, uh, behind the imaging on Mariner 10. And he had done on some of the, uh, Mars missions.

Mat Kaplan: Your, your mentor we should add a- also at, uh, Caltech.

Bruce Betts: Ouais. My PhD adviser.

Mat Kaplan: Ouais. From our, uh, poet laureate, Dave Fairchild, he's back. Comet Kohoutek was thought it to be a comet of brilliance. It wasn't, you see. But Mariner 10 thought it still pretty grand and watched it in the ultraviolet band. (laughing) I, ultraviolet band, that, that was my favorite, uh, rock group of the, uh, of the '70s as well. Pure coincidence of (01:25:00) course.

Bruce Betts: (laughs)

Mat Kaplan: D'accord. We're done unless you've got a new question for us.

Bruce Betts: You know I do, Mat. This time, I do have a new question. And we're going to talk about planetary transits. What spacecraft observed a planetary transit from the surface of another planet? Go to planetary.org/radiocontest.

Mat Kaplan: Sensationnel. D'accord. That is extra cool. We have a very special price this time. Our friends at the Yugen Tribe who make this terrific cosmic jewelry are now selling that jewelry through another of our partners, ChopShop, chopshopstore.com and, uh, isn't this perfect? Just at the start of the, uh, Christmas or holiday shopping season, we're going to give away a necklace and earring set from Yugen with interchangeable images of LightSail, of LightSail 2. So, uh, pretty thrilling.

Bruce Betts: Cool.

Mat Kaplan: (01:26:00) Yeah. Isn't that great? So that's the price.

Bruce Betts: Buy them from?

Mat Kaplan: Ouais. Well, yeah, you can if you go to chopshopstore.com and put in your credit card.

Bruce Betts: Oh, okay.

Mat Kaplan: (laughing) But anyway, we're, we're going to have a free set for somebody out there just in time. You have this time until the 20th. That will be November, 20 at 8AM, Pacific time to get us your answer. All right, Bruce. It's still going on, right?

Bruce Betts: It is. It is for a few more minutes. Still in front of the sun. So I want to go watch it some more.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah, enjoy.

Bruce Betts: All right, everybody. Go out there. Look out at the night sky or the day side sky if you're using appropriate filters. And think about whether you prefer a Mercury transit or public transit.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs)

Bruce Betts: Thank you and good night.

Mat Kaplan: (laughs) That's an easy question to answer but I'll leave it to the listeners. Uh, that's our friend, chief scientist for The Planetary Society, Bruce Betts. He's in transit as he joins (01:27:00) us here on What's Up. Planetary Radio is produced by The Planetary Society in Pasadena, California. And is made possible by its members who love every world in the galaxy, large or small. Learn how to become a member of the society at planetary.org/membership. And please, leave us a rating or review on iTunes Apple podcast. Mark Hilverda is our associate producer.

Josh Doyle composed our theme which is arranged and performed by Peter Schlosser. I'm Mat Kaplan. Ad astra.

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