In a voyage round Saturn, we explore the weather observed in its atmosphere, the curious structures that develop within the rings, and its wide variety of moons – from smog-shrouded Titan, two-sided Iapetus, to busy Prometheus, and the icy plumes erupting from frozen Enceladus.
Professor Carolin Crawford
Outreach Officer at the Instituteof Astronomy and Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, Professor Carolin Crawford is one of Britain's foremost science communicators.
After receiving her PhD from NewnhamCollege, Cambridge, Professor Crawford went on to a series of fellowships from BalliolCollege, Oxford, Trinity Hall, Cambridge and the Royal Society. In 2004 she was appointed as a Fellow and College Lecturer at EmmanuelCollege, Cambridge, where she is now also the undergraduate Admissions Tutor for the Physical Sciences. Since 2005 she has combined her college role with that of Outreach Officer at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge.
Professor Crawford’s primary research interests are in combining X-ray, optical and near-infrared observations to study the physical processes occurring around massive galaxies at the core of clusters of galaxies. In particular, she observes the complex interplay between the hot intra-cluster medium, filaments of warm ionized gas, cold molecular clouds, star formation and the radio plasma flowing out from the central supermassive black hole.
In 2009 Professor Crawford’s outstanding abilities at science communication were recognized by a Women of Outstanding AchievementAward by the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, presented for “communication of science with a contribution to society.”
Appointed as the 36thGresham Professor of Astronomy in 2011, Professor Crawford looks forward to presenting her Gresham lectures wherein she plans “to showcase the very latest developments and ideas in astronomy and cosmology, whilst putting them into the context of the process of scientific discovery.”
Sixth planet from the Sun, named for the Roman god of sowing and seed. The second largest nonstellar object in the solar system after Jupiter, it is about 95 times as massive as Earth and has more than 700 times its volume. Saturn's outer layers are gaseous, mainly hydrogen. Models of its interior suggest a rock-and-ice core surrounded by a shallow layer of liquid metallic hydrogen encased by an envelope of molecular hydrogen. Its mean density, about 70% that of water, is the lowest of any known object in the solar system. Saturn has over 60 moons (including Titan, the largest) and an extensive ring system, with several main sections visible from Earth with a telescope. Saturn's rings are made up of countless separate particles ranging mainly from inches to many feet in size but also including dust in some regions. Water ice probably constitutes most of the ring material. Galileo discerned the presence of the rings in 1610, though he mistook them for two other planets, owing to the low resolution of his instrument. Saturn's day is about 10.8 hours; its year is approximately 29.5 Earth years. Its rapid rotation, acting on electric currents in the core, generates a strong magnetic field and large magnetosphere. Saturn's fast spin also makes it the most flattened (oblate) of the planets; its polar diameter of 67,560 mi (108,728 km) is 10% smaller than its equatorial diameter. Its average distance from the Sun is 887 million mi (1.43 billion km).