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Cassini Scientist for a Day 2014

Cassini Scientist for a Day

An Essay Contest For Students in Grade 5 to 12

archived contest

The Cassini Scientist for a Day contest challenges students to become NASA scientists studying Saturn. Participants examine three possible observations taken by Cassini and are tasked to choose the one they think will yield the best scientific results. This choice must then be supported in essay (maximum 500 words). The contest meets U.S. National English and Science Education Standards.

UPDATE: (Sept. 2) The next edition of the essay contest will be held in 2015. We'll announce updates on this page and via email.

To be notified about all contest updates, send an e-mail to:

(Please write "Add me to the mailing list" in the subject field.)

The winners of the 2014 U.S. edition of the contest are:

Target 1: F ring

Target 2: Titan

Target 3: Saturn

Grade 5-6:

Juliana Yu
The Dalton School
New York, New York
Nicholas Vitebsky
Mountain View Middle School
Mendham, New Jersey
Neha Aryasomayajula
Conant Elementary School
Acton, Massachusetts

Grade 7-8:

Luca P.B. Robinson
Castaic Middle School
Castaic, California
Nidhi Nagireddy
Rocky Run Middle School
Chantilly, Virginia
Belen Morote
Copiague Middle School
Copiague, New York

Grade 9-12:

Ben Wolman
Palisades Charter High School
Pacific Palisades, California
Emma Spears
Powell County High School
Deer Lodge, Montana
Carolyn Frank, Dominick Frank,
and Chelsey Frank

Farmington, Maine

The winners of the 2014 International Edition are listed on these pages .

Here are the three topics of the Spring 2014 essay contest:

Target 1 is Saturn's F ring. Cassini will be taking 70 images of the F ring using the spacecraft's Narrow Angle Camera to make a movie showing how the F ring changes as it orbits Saturn.

Target 2 is Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Cassini will be taking nine images of Titan's north polar region using its Narrow Angle Camera. These images will be stitched together to form a mosaic.

Target 3 is the planet Saturn. The Cassini spacecraft will use its Wide Angle Camera and its Narrow Angle Camera to image Saturn's north pole, studying the hurricane at the north pole and the hexagon-shaped polar vortex.

The deadline for the U.S. contest is April 17, 2014

Other countries may have different deadlines.
NOTE: If you had issues printing certificates of participation, visit this page
Announcing the Spring 2014 Cassini Scientist for a Day essay contest for students in grades 5 to 12.
Click on the image to download the flyer (PDF, 238 KB)

2013 Edition Recap:

• Winners of the last edition of the U.S. contest.

• Winners from participating countries.

• Winners from the European Space Agency international contest.

• For a list of participating countries, please visit our international page .
Cassini scientists answer students questions
On Dec. 5, 2013, a panel of Cassini scientists answered students' questions in a live Ustream webcast. Ota Lutz, JPL Education specialist, moderated the panel with Marcia Burton, fields and particles scientist, and Amanda Hendrix, icy moon scientist, and Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist.

December 2010: Student Scientists Have Their Day

Students from schools throughout the U.S. peppered a panel of top Cassini scientists with questions on Saturn and its rings and moons. Leading the panel, on Dec. 7, 2010, was Amanda Hendrix, Cassini deputy scientist. She was assisted by Kevin Baines, a JPL Principal Scientist with extensive experience in planetary exploration, and Rosaly Lopes, a world-famous planetary geologist and volcanologist.
From left, Ota Lutz, Amanda Hendrix, Kevin Baines and Rosaly Lopes
Ota Lutz facilitates discussion with Amanda Hendrix, Kevin Baines and Rosaly Lopes as they field questions from students around the world.
The event has been recorded, and is available on Ustream.

+ Watch the Webcast (1 hour)

The 2009 edition of the Ustream event is also available on Ustream.

+ Watch the 2009 Webcast (63 minutes)

To be notified of all contest updates, send an e-mail to:
(Please write "Add me to the mailing list" in the subject field.)

  • Blend space exploration with reading and writing -- Reading, Writing & Rings!
  • Cassini Scientist for a Day -- Students get involved
  • Cassini Raw Images