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Cassini Scientist for a Day -- Fall 2008

Cassini Scientist for a Day is a national essay contest for U.S. students in grades 5-12. Students choose one of three images the Cassini spacecraft can take on a given date and time set aside for education, and write a 500-word essay as to why they think it will yield the best science results. Winners and their classes participate in teleconferences with Cassini scientists.

Target 1: Tethys

"Rainstorms at the Australian Deep Space Network tracking complex caused a degradation of the data we received, and then a slight misalignment of equipment on the 70-meter antenna resulted in loss of about 90 minutes of data. But about 98 percent of the data that Cassini collects does make it home to the science team."

-- Julie Webster, Cassini Spacecraft Chief Engineer
Meet the winners and read the essays Target 1 was not returned. This image of Tethys was used for discussion. Read original caption.

Target 2: Titan's Orange Haze

A natural photochemical smog obscures the surface of Saturn's largest moon Titan. The haze appears slightly brighter in the south than in the north - a feature thought to be a seasonal effect.

The haze has a complicated structure in the high northern latitudes, at top, and forms a multi-layered "hood." This northern polar hood is seen more clearly in "Titan's Hazes."

This image of Titan was captured by the Cassini's narrow-angle camera on Nov. 26, 2008. Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this color view.

Titan in color
Meet the winners and read the essays

Target 2: Keeping an Eye on Titan

Cassini captures dark, low-lying terrain near Titan's equatorial region. The spacecraft has revealed that much of this dark terrain is occupied by great fields of hydrocarbon sand dunes.

This image of Titan was captured by the Cassini's narrow-angle camera on Nov. 26, 2008. The view was acquired using a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 939 nanometers. Light at this wavelength is able to penetrate the moon's hazy atmosphere, reflect off the surface, and escape back into space with much less scattering than most visible wavelengths, and therefore this is considered to be the imaging cameras' best spectral window for peering at Titan's surface.

Titan with filter

Target 3: Mimas Transit

The icy, crater-covered moon Mimas glides across the face of giant Saturn in this movie sequence of eight narrow-angle camera images. The images were obtained by the Cassini spacecraft on Nov. 26, 2008.

Meet the winners and read the essays


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