(written from a Production point of view)
Carolyn Porco (born 6 March 1953; age 64) is an American planetary scientist who served on 2009's Star Trek as a consultant on planetary science and imagery. She came to the attention of the film's producer and director, J.J. Abrams, when both Porco and Abrams spoke at the Technology Entertainment Design (TED) conference in 2007. Porco worked directly with the film's Visual Effects Supervisor, Roger Guyett of ILM.
Porco is the leader of the imaging science team on NASA's Cassini-Huygens mission and is the director of the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS) at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, as well as editor of the lab's website, including its "Captain's Log" greeting. She is also an imaging scientist on the New Horizons project launched in January 2006.
She received her PhD degree in 1983 from the California Institute of Technology in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences. Later that year, she joined the faculty in the Department of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona. During the 1980s, Porco was an imaging scientist on the Voyager missions.
Porco is a frequent guest panelist and astronomy consultant on CNN. She has made appearances on such news magazines and TV specials as 60 Minutes and Peter Jennings' The Century. She has consulted on a number of documentaries, including the A&E television special Cosmic Journey: The Voyager Interstellar Mission and Message, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Voyager missions. She was also an adviser on the 1997 film Contact (which featured Tucker Smallwood).
Porco was named as one of "18 scientific leaders of the 21st century" by The Sunday Times in 1999, and was listed as one of the "50 Stars to Watch" by Industrial Weekly. She is also the recipient of the 2008 Isaac Asimov Award. The asteroid 7231 Porco was named in her honor in recognition of her contributions to the exploration of our solar system.