Cassini Scientist for a Day
You have the opportunity to make space exploration history!
Students in grades 5 to 12 can help direct the Cassini spacecraft which is orbiting the planet Saturn. You can participate in scientific debate by deciding which imaging target you think would bring the most scientifically interesting results.
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The cameras on the Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan have been taking stunning images of Saturn and its rings and moons for the past three years. These images have helped planetary scientists learn more about this amazing planet.
For most of its tour, Cassini has a chance to point its cameras at various targets, but only one image can be taken at a time. Before each imaging opportunity, Cassini scientists have to decide which image they think would yield the best science. They make a case for specific images, and debate why one image would be better than another. Finally, they agree on which image will be taken, and the command to take the image is uplinked to the spacecraft.
In Cassini's "Scientist for a Day" contest, you get to be the scientist. You will learn about four possible images that the cameras on Cassini could take on Nov. 30, 2007. Learn as much as you can about Saturn, its rings, and its moons, and decide which of these four images would be the best one to take.
Write an essay describing why you chose the image you did. The winning essays (one per category) will be the ones with the best scientific reasoning for the image to be taken.
Essays by students in grades 5 to 8 and grades 9 to 12 will be judged in two separate categories.
You will need to weigh all the factors and choose one of the four targets. What do you hope to learn from the image you have selected? Your decision should be based on which image would yield the most scientific results. The artistic value of the image can be an added bonus to your decision.
Entries will be judged by a committee composed of a Cassini scientist, a Cassini mission planner and Cassini and JPL education specialists.
Students from the school with the winning essay will participate in a Cassini mission staff meeting via teleconference or videoconference. As many participating schools as possible will be offered the chance to debate their choices with Cassini scientists. The students who write the two winning essays will receive certificates with their name and the winning image(s).
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