I’m Val Klavans, just over a quarter of a century old, and the identity of Titan Saturn’s Moon. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in astronomy from the University of Maryland. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been interested in astronomy. I remember being awe-stuck watching Apollo 13 when I was five years old and Contact a few years after. I also grew up on the Star Trek TV shows and movies. One day while I was watching an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, I asked my dad, “Is this happening now?” I think my favorite movie as a kid was The Planets: The Movie. I remember watching it over and over. Looking back on it, the film combined my two passions perfectly: space and music.
Becoming “Titan Saturn’s Moon”
One event in particular made me love planetary science: The Great Planet Debate. There, I heard truly mind-blowing talks by important planetary scientists. It made me realize we are in the golden age of planetary science. We are now just beginning to understand planetary objects, and we are in dire need of a good classification system for them. That same year, I began interning with the Cassini mission’s Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. I had an amazing time, worked with amazing scientists, and fell in love with Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. One day in 2009 I made a Facebook for Titan, just for fun. Before I knew it, it had exploded with lots of friends and followers. This was not my intention, but I was excited to see that people really are interested in planetary science, including our solar system’s second largest moon. As a result, I found my true calling. I want to bridge the gap between scientists and the public. I want to make everyone aware of the amazing solar system in which we live.
In Saturn’s Rings
I am a co-producer for the upcoming film In Saturn’s Rings. I’m really excited and honored to be part of such an amazing film! I am an image processor and social media leader for the film. I make raw, monochrome images from Cassini come to life in color composites. You can see some of my work here.
On July 19, 2013, people from all around the world waved at the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. It took pictures of us, from Saturn orbit. As soon as the raw images came in, I immediately made color composites of those views. As a result, I kinda went viral! My images were featured on NBC News, FOX News, Daily Mail, io9, Business Insider, Yahoo! News, PetaPixel, DPReview, and many others.
All above images credit: NASA / JPL / SSI / Val Klavans
My Second Passion: Music
After Titan, my second love is music. I play a handful of instruments, but spend the most time with guitar. I have been playing guitar since 1997. I’m classically trained but since have branched out into many styles. If you’d like to listen to my compositions and covers, check them out here. I’m always looking for people to jam with, so let me know if you’d be interested! My favorite musical genre is 1970’s progressive rock.