CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Cassini Favorite Image Contest Draws Space Enthusiasts, And Winners, From Across The Globe

Preston Dyches (720) 974-5859
CICLOPS/Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

CICLOPS News Feature: Jan. 9, 2008


Thousands of enthusiastic fans of NASA's Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft have chosen a color picture of a tiny, dot-like planet Earth, cradled by Saturn's rings during a total solar eclipse, as the most popular image of all those so far returned by the Cassini mission.

People from across the globe visited the official website of Cassini's Imaging Team,, during the month of December to vote for their favorites in the categories of color images, black & white images and movies. And, as a special 'Thank you' for voting, the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS) randomly selected a handful of lucky individuals from the US, England, Canada and China to win a poster of the most popular color image.

Choosing candidate images for the contest was no easy task. Since Cassini began imaging the Saturn system in Feb. 2004, the Imaging Team has publicly released nearly 1,500 processed images and movies to its website.

To assist in narrowing the field among the many worthy candidates, CICLOPS director and Imaging Team Leader Dr. Carolyn Porco enlisted the help of the CICLOPS Alliance. The Alliance is an on-line membership of Cassini enthusiasts who frequent the CICLOPS website to post commentary on the images, play the site's 'Golf Sector 6' on-line game, or engage in other Cassini-related activities.

Dozens of Alliance members responded to the call by poring over the huge body of Cassini releases and contributing their favorites. The final candidate lists, whittled down even further by selection of the most popular Alliance contributions, included 30 color images, 27 black & white images and 20 movies.

Voting ended on Dec. 30 with the total solar eclipse image the clear favorite in the color category. The results for the black & white image and movie categories were less clear cut, with a statistical tie in both categories. These included a black & white view reminiscent of the work of 20th century Russian-born abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky, and a bracing movie of Cassini's flight over the high mountain ridge of Saturn's yin-yang moon Iapetus.

Three of the lucky voters chosen at random to win a poster of the eclipse image are:

* Chris Carpenter, a systems engineer for an ISP company from Wake Forest, North Carolina who enjoys bird watching and star gazing.

* Mark Gerwlivch, a retired high school science teacher and star-gazer from Ontario, Canada.

* John Keller, a mechanical engineer from Houston, Texas who enjoys hiking and astronomy.

Five of the Alliance members who helped in the down-select were also chosen as winners. They are:

* Carl Krauss, an electrical/mechanical designer and a former rock band sound engineer from Anaheim, CA.

* Christine Millsaps, a logistics analyst and amateur astronomer from Lusby, Maryland.

* Michael Rutkowski, an environmentally minded political campaigner and a graduate student at Arizona State University working on a PhD in Astrophysics, from Tempe, Arizona.

* Louise Sharples, a 23-yr-old armchair explorer/astronomer and self-described "big fan of NASA and the US" from Wigan, England.

* Helen Sotiriadis, a North-American-raised Greek architect presently living in Beijing, China and serving as a Senior CAD Operator for Beijing Olympic Broadcasting, the Host Broadcaster for the 2008 Olympics.

More information on the contest results can be found here.

More information on our winning participants can be found here.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The imaging team consists of scientists from the U.S., England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team leader (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.