Want to be a Cassini Scientist for a Day?

student participants in scientist-for-a-day program A group of students from Shirley Avenue Elementary School in Reseda, California, pose in front of a half-scale model of the Cassini spacecraft at JPL. The students participated in the pilot edition of "Cassini Scientist for a Day" in 2006. Image credit: NASA/JPL
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April 03, 2008

PASADENA, Calif. -- If you're a student who's ever wondered what it's like to be a NASA scientist, look no further. NASA is giving 5th to 12th grade students the opportunity to study Saturn and make decisions, just as scientists on the Cassini-Huygens mission do on a daily basis.

"It's a really fun way for kids to learn about Saturn and what the mission is doing," said Rachel Zimmerman-Brachman, an education and public outreach specialist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Students have to do their own research to write their essay. That way, they learn how to ask questions about the solar system and what we still need to understand."

The Cassini spacecraft, launched just over a decade ago, has been sending back never-before-seen views of Saturn, its rings and its moons for nearly four years. Part of the Cassini team's job is to pick which image targets will yield the best science results.

Cassini's cameras will take images of three designated targets on June 10. The choices include Saturn's moons Rhea and Enceladus, and a region of Saturn's rings that includes the tiny moon Pan. Students must write a 500-word essay on why the image they chose would be the most scientifically rich for Cassini's cameras to take. Essays will be judged by a panel of Cassini scientists, mission planners, and by the JPL education and outreach team. Winners will be invited to discuss their essays with JPL Cassini scientists via teleconference.

Entries are divided into three groups: grades five through six, seven through eight, and high school. One winner will be chosen from each group. The deadline for entries is May 8, 2008, at noon Pacific time (3 p.m. Eastern time). All participants with valid entries will receive a certificate of participation.

For more information about the Cassini Scientist-for-a-Day contest, a complete description of the designated targets, and entry rules, please visit: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/education/scientist/. More information on the Cassini-Huygens mission can be found at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov, and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.

Media contacts: Diya Schacko/Carolina Martinez
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.


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