Students Chosen as Cassini Scientists for a Day
Four students have won the Cassini Scientist for a Day contest, with
most choosing Rhea, Saturn's second-largest moon, as the best place
for scientists to study using NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
Contest participants had to choose one of three target areas for Cassini's
camera: Saturn's moon Enceladus, Rhea, or a section of Saturn's
rings that includes the tiny moon Pan. The students had to write an
essay explaining why their chosen snapshot would yield the most scientific
rewards, and the winners were invited to discuss their essays with Cassini
scientists via teleconference.
The essays were judged by a panel of Cassini scientists, mission planners,
and the education and outreach team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
This year's winners are located in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Michigan.
Their essays were chosen from 197 essays written by fifth-to-twelfth-grade
students across the United States.
Michael Keefe, an eighth-grader from Scituate, Mass., and the winner in the
7th-to-8th-grade category, chose Rhea.
"A photograph of Rhea would not just give us clues about what forces are at
work upon it, but also what forces have worked on other satellites," Keefe
wrote in his essay.
Matt Pleatman and Noah Van Valkenburg, 11th-grade students from Bloomfield
Hills, Mich., and the winners in the 9th-to-12th-grade division, also chose Rhea
for their joint essay, writing "What better moon to study than the one discovered
by Cassini himself?"
Ben Basalik, a 6th-grade student from Collegeville, Penn., and the winner in the
5th-to-6th-grade category, chose Enceladus, Saturn's geologically active moon.
Cassini has discovered Yellowstone-like geysers spewing from its surface.
"This moon is unusual because it reflects almost 100 percent of the sunlight
that strikes it and although it is cold, it has many features that suggest that
it is generating heat," Basalik wrote in his essay.
The next opportunity to participate in the Cassini Scientist-for-a-Day contest
will be in September. More information is online at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/education/scientist/
More information on the Cassini-Huygens mission is at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
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. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.
Media contacts: Carolina Martinez 818-354-9382/ Diya Chacko 818-393-5464
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.