Transcript: Interview with Carrie Anderson


I built my first AM radio with my dad full-on, really sodering and building. I built, you know, missile rockets, and we launched those. And we had telescopes. And he was the first to show me Mars. And I slowly got into the space program that way. I knew in high school that I wanted to be an astronomer. You can discover and find out what's going on. Depending on what you are studying. For me, it's Titan's atmosphere.

Name's Carrie Ander and I'm a space scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and I'm a team member on Cassini CIRS. CIRS is called the composit infrared spectrometer, and it's one of the tweleve instruments on board the Cassini spacecraft, which is orbiting Satern. What CIRS does is it goes beyond the human visible spectrum part, that we see with our eyes, into the thermal infrared, what I'll call it. So imagine sitting in front of fire, and you are not looking at it, but you're feeling the fire, the heat from the fire. CIRS sees that heat and records it. And then we can tell what is going on: there's this molecule, this molecule, this type of maybe particulate, a cloud. to try to figure out "Ok, what could that be?" And that's what we're doing to to find out the types of clouds that we see with CIRS.

But if you just kind of look at Titan from a big picture point of view, first of all it's a moon, and it orbits Satern. It's Satern's largest moon. And it's the second largest moon in our solar system, next to Jupiter's Ganymede. But what's really intriguing about Titan is that it is the only moon in our solar system with a thick, substantial planet-like atmosphere. On Earth, in our troposphere, you know, when you look up and you see clouds those are all made of liquid water, ice crystals or a combination of the two. Well, Titan doesn't have that. It has methane instead. So you'd see all this methane rain, methane drizzle, methane clouds, all that.

There's a lot of early Earth scientists out there who want to learn about, you know, life "Is there life?" You can go to Titan as one possibility, because it can be representative what the early Earth was like before we were here. It's a completely different environment than Earth, but it has a lot of similarities at the same time.

It's a very dynamic world. In studying it, you can do any kind of photochemistry, different chemistry, different physics. I was always interested in math and science, but my dad, I think, was a key role. I wanted to keep doing it and learning, and I'm here. Dream come true!