NASA Scientist to Speak at Cal Poly Following End of Cassini Mission

SAN LUIS OBISPO — A planetary scientist who has worked with NASA on the Cassini mission to Saturn — one of the most successful planetary missions ever — will speak at Cal Poly’s second annual Ross and Sue Benitez Space Exploration Forum from 7-8:30 p.m., on Saturday, Sept. 16, at Spanos Theatre. The event is free and open to the public.

Jani Radebaugh, who specializes in landscapes of Earth and other planets, will share images captured by the Cassini spacecraft that is dramatically ending its 13-year mission of the ringed planet and its moons on Sept. 15. Radebaugh’s research includes Saturn’s moon Titan, which is home to seas and lakes filled with liquid hydrocarbons, and Jupiter’s moon Io.

“For over a decade, the NASA Cassini spacecraft has revealed amazing discoveries about Saturn’s atmosphere, rings and moons,” said Cal Poly Physics Professor John Keller. “Dr. Radebaugh has worked with the Cassini science team since before the spacecraft’s arrival at Saturn in 2004.”

Radebaugh, a geology professor from Brigham Young University, will discuss her current investigations, which include giant dunes, mountains, volcanoes, rivers and lakes on Titan and actively erupting volcanoes and mountains on the Jovian moon Io. She will discuss the planetary processes on these moons using hands-on studies of landscapes on Earth in combination with Cassini results.

“To understand these places has required us to be ourselves explorers, ranging from the deserts of Egypt, Arabia and Persia, over the high plateaus of the Argentine Puna, and to the edges of lava lakes in Ethiopia and Vanuatu,” Radebaugh said.

The NASA Cassini spacecraft will end its exploration of the Saturn system by burning up in the atmosphere like a meteor. The school-bus-sized robotic observation platform has provided an unparalleled glimpse into what is happening on the sixth planet from the sun. NASA is deliberately plunging Cassini, which has used up almost all of its fuel, into the planet to ensure Saturn’s moons remain pristine for future exploration. 

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit 


Cassini’s Finale - 3 minutes:

Cassini’s Finale - 1:30 minutes:

Contact: John Keller

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