Panel Judged Essays Submitted By 5th-12th Grade Students
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.
As ANN reported, 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, Pasadena, Calif.
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, MA 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
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
The next opportunity to participate in the Cassini
Scientist-for-a-Day contest will be in September.