Virtual Middlebury

Open to the Public

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft orbited Saturn for thirteen years, transforming our understanding of this beautiful ringed planet and its entourage of moons. From giant atmospheric storms on Saturn and methane seas on Titan, to icy plumes on Enceladus and density waves in Saturn’s rings created by the planet itself, the mission was filled with surprises and delights. Professor French was a Cassini science team member from the earliest days of the mission in 1990 until its intentional crash into Saturn in 2017.  In this presentation, he will share an insider’s view of this grand international venture, describing the fourteen years of preparation for the orbital tour that began in 2004 and highlighting some of the spectacular science results of the multi-instrument mission.

Richard French, McDowell/Whiting Professor of Astrophysics, Wellesley College

Dr. Richard G. French is the Louise Sherwood McDowell and Sarah Frances Whiting Professor of Astrophysics and Professor of Astronomy at Wellesley College.  He received both his undergraduate degree and his Ph.D. from Cornell University, where he studied under Carl Sagan. After a stint at MIT, he joined the faculty of Wellesley College.  As a planetary astronomer and a founding member of NASA’s Cassini Science Team, French has studied the dynamics and structure of planetary rings, the chaotic orbits of planetary satellites, and the atmospheres of giant planets.  He enjoys both providing opportunities in astronomical research to non-scientists as well as rigorous training to students bound for graduate school.  Having chosen a career in astronomy over opera, French is a devotee of the liberal arts, music, and the outdoors.

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Contact Organizer

Kemp, Jonathan
(802) 443-2265