Burns is active on planning and interpreting results obtained by the Cassini mission around Saturn. He has recently organized exhibits of Cassini results that have appeared at the American Museum of Natural History (NYC) and the National Air and Space Museum (Washington), among other venues. His current research concerns planetary rings and the small bodies of the solar system (dust, satellites, comets and asteroids). Generally, Joe and his students are interested in developing analytical and numerical models to explain puzzling observational data concerning the solar system. Burns is a member of the imaging teams for the Cassini (Saturn) and Rosetta (European comet) missions, and was an associate of the Galileo imaging team. Joe has assisted former students in their discoveries and interpretations of many irregular satellites in telescopic observations and of faint rings in spacecraft data.