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Be a ‘Cassini Scientist for a Day’ – 2015 Competition announced

30/10/2015 5421 views 21 likes
ESA / Education / Teachers' Corner

The 2015 edition of the 'Cassini Scientist for a Day' competition is now open to entries by students. The competition is designed to give the participants a taste of life as a space scientist. Students are invited to submit a 500-word essay explaining their choice of one of three targets to be imaged by the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn.

Be a Cassini Scientist for a day
The team working on the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens mission have set aside valuable observing time for educational purposes and they will use this time to take images as part of the ‘Cassini Scientist for a Day’ competition. School students from participating countries must choose one of three targets that Cassini will image and write an essay to justify their choice to a panel of experts.

European competition
Entries are welcome from students in any of those ESA Member States and ESA Cooperating States participating in the competition this time around, namely: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The closing date for the competition in these countries is 23:59 CET, 26 February 2016.

Essays must be submitted to the appropriate national organiser who will select the winners for that country.

Contact details for the national organisers can be found here.

Winners of the competition held in the participating ESA Member States and Cooperating States will receive a special ESA goodie bag and certificate. In addition, the winning essays will be published on the ESA website.

Which of these three targets would you choose? 
To enter the competition, students should study each of the three targets that Cassini will image and decide which one they think will yield the best science results. The three targets are:

1. Saturn's rings, with three of Saturn's moons: Tethys, Enceladus, and Mimas. 

2. A distant image of Jupiter. 

3. A short movie of Saturn's moon, Tethys, passing behind Rhea.

Competition details
Essays will be judged in the following age categories:

  • 10 – 12 years old
  • 13 – 15 years old
  • 16 – 18 years old

Entries will be accepted from individual students or from teams of up to four students. 

Each student or team may submit only one entry.

Cassini approaches Saturn
Cassini approaches Saturn

Cassini-Huygens Mission 
The Cassini-Huygens mission is an international endeavour between NASA, ESA, and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). In 2004, after a journey of nearly seven years the spacecraft, comprising NASA's Cassini orbiter and ESA's Huygens probe, was the first to enter orbit around Saturn.

In January 2005, the Huygens probe touched down on the surface of Titan, one of Saturn's moons. This is the only landing to take place in the outer Solar System and the furthest from Earth. 

The Cassini spacecraft is still in orbit around Saturn, providing scientists with an abundance of information about the giant planet and its moons. Now in its final phase, the Cassini mission has about two more years to go until the end of its second mission extension, called the ‘Solstice Mission’. The final orbits of Cassini, taking place in 2016 and 2017, will be spectacular. The spacecraft will orbit closely to Saturn and its rings, before a final plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere in September 2017. Currently, and until the end of 2015, Cassini’s trajectory lies within the equatorial plane of Saturn, allowing a last series of close flybys past Saturn’s icy moons. 

A strong European involvement in the Cassini-Huygens mission
The Huygens probe was developed by ESA, and many European countries were involved in the development of the 12 instruments on-board the Cassini orbiter. Data returned to Earth by the Huygens probe, along with data from the on-going Cassini mission, are studied by hundreds of scientists from around the world. Many of the scientists participating in this international mission of exploration and discovery are European.

Contact information

Rebecca Barnes
Communications, Outreach and Education Group
Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration, ESA
Email: SciEdu @ esa.int

Nicolas Altobelli
ESA Cassini–Huygens Project Scientist
Email: nicolas.altobelli @ sciops.esa.int

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