Follow this link to skip to the main content

Cassini Scientist for a Day

10 Years at Saturn: Spring 2014 Edition Now Under Way

An Essay Contest For Students in Grade 5 to 12

+ Online contest submission form available now


Closed-captioned video (QuickTime, 33.41 MB)

HD version (QuickTime, 97.28 MB)

M4V (105 MB)

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: April 9, 2014: The online form for U.S. entries is now available.

UPDATE: March 27: We added a video of Cassini scientists providing a first hand view of the scientific process, debating which of the three topics they would choose.
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.
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)

This essay contest meets U.S. National English and Science Education Standards .

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.

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.

The event has been recorded, and is available on Ustream.
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.

+ 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