The woman who guides the team of scientists and engineers responsible for all those out-of-this-world images from Saturn that are popping up everywhere lately will soon be guiding the folks at Paramount Pictures in creating planetary scenes for its much anticipated new movie "Star Trek".
Carolyn Porco, the leader of the Imaging Science team on NASA'S Cassini mission at Saturn, has accepted an invitation from Star Trek director/producer, J.J. Abrams, to join the Star Trek production crew as a consultant on planetary science and imagery.
Abrams, who co-created, produced, and directed the TV series "Lost", created, produced and directed the TV series "Alias", and directed the film "Mission: Impossible III", was present at the 2007 TED conference in Monterey, California where Porco spoke of the recent findings from the Cassini mission.
"Carolyn and her team have produced images that are simply stunning", said Abrams. "I'm thrilled that she will help guide our production in creating an authentic vision of space, one that immerses our audience in a visual experience as awe-inspiring as what Carolyn's cameras have captured."
Porco also directs the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS) at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado. CICLOPS is the center of uplink and downlink flight operations for the Cassini imaging experiment, and the place where Cassini images are processed for release to the public. (Cassini images of Saturn and its rings and moons can be found at the official imaging team website.)
Porco has made it her personal mission to produce, and release for public consumption, images that are scientifically accurate, artfully presented and as true to life as possible.
"Ever since we departed Earth 10 years ago", said Porco, "I wanted the world to see and enjoy what the planetary bodies and phenomena imaged by our cameras would look like if one were there, going along for the ride."
Now she will be taking that same attention to scientific accuracy and artful presentation to the silver screen.
"This is a fabulous opportunity to bring to a wider audience the discoveries we've made at Saturn, and the spectacular sights we have seen there", she said. "And what better way to do that than to make use of those discoveries in the crafting of imagery for one of the most popular movie franchises of all time."
Porco will be working directly with Roger Guyett, the film's supervisor for visual effects. Guyett has been a creative leader at George Lucas' visual effects firm, Industrial Light and Magic, since 1994, and has been visual effects director for such classics as "Star Wars: Episode III", "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", "Mission: Impossible III", "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End", and more.
"Everybody is very excited about Carolyn's involvement in the film", said Guyett. "Her incredible knowledge and expertise is obviously something we're going to tap into. And the breathtaking imagery that she brings to the collaboration will inspire us all to create some awesome images for our movie!"
The original 1966-1969 television series "Star Trek" was created by Gene Roddenberry, and has encompassed 726 total episodes for television in six different series. The first 10 "Star Trek" films have grossed in excess of $1 billion at the worldwide box office.
"Star Trek" is scheduled for release in December 2008.
Porco, a frequent commentator on science, astronomy, and space exploration for television, radio, and print media, is not new to film production. She served as a consultant on the Warner Bros. movie "Contact" starring Jodie Foster, and as scientific advisor and an animation director for the A&E television special on the 25th anniversary of the Voyager mission, "Cosmic Journey", produced by Cosmos Studios and Norman Star Media.
Alongside a distinguished teaching and research career, Porco played a prominent role in the Voyager mission to the outer planets in the 1980s, and is also an imaging scientist on NASA's New Horizons mission, currently on its way to Pluto.
Her contributions to the exploration of the outer solar system were recognized in 1998 with the naming of Asteroid (7231) Porco. In late 1999, she was selected by the London Sunday Times as one of 18 scientific leaders of the 21st century.
Porco is also the recipient of the 2008 Isaac Asimov Science Award given by the American Humanist Association, the oldest and largest humanist organization in the United States.
Diamond Sky Productions, LLC is a company devoted to the scientific, as well as artful, use of planetary imagery and computer graphics, across all visual media, for the presentation of science and its findings to the public.