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Students Chosen As NASA’s Cassini Scientists For A Day

Scientists on NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn have chosen a fresh crop of outstanding essays from students hoping to share the excitement of exploring the planet Saturn.

Many of the eleven students from across the United States who recently won NASA’s Spring 2014 Cassini Scientist for a Day essay contest weren’t even alive yet in 1997 when the Cassini spacecraft launched from Earth on its seven-year trip to Saturn.

Contest participants in grades five to twelve chose one of three target areas for Cassini’s camera: Saturn’s F ring, Saturn’s moon Titan, or the north pole of the planet Saturn itself. The students wrote essays explaining why they thought their chosen picture would yield the most scientific rewards.

A panel of Cassini scientists, mission planners and educators at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California judged the essays. The winners and their classes were invited to participate in a videoconference to pose their questions about Saturn to Cassini scientists and engineers.

This year’s winners come from seven states: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Virginia, Montana, and Maine.

Their essays were chosen from entries written by 1,125 students across the United States. More than 100 teachers in 32 states had their students participate in the essay contest this year.

Winners of NASA’s Spring 2014 Cassini Scientist for a Day essay contest are Juliana Yu from New York City, New York; Nicholas Vitebsky from Mendham, New Jersey; Neha K. Aryasomayajula from Acton, Massachusetts; Luca Robinson from Castaic, California; Nidhi Nagireddy from Chantilly, Virginia; Belen Morote from Copiague, New York; Ben Wolman from Pacific Palisades, California; Emma Spears from Deer Lodge, Montana; and Chelsey, Dominick, and Carolyn Frank from Farmington, Maine.

The middle school winner on the topic of Saturn’s F ring is Luca Robinson, an eighth grade student at Castaic Middle School in Castaic, California.  In his winning essay, Luca writes, “As an 8th grader, we have been concentrating on mass, density, gravity, and acceleration, and how they relate to one another.  The question should be answered, as to how Saturn’s mass in total, and gravity contribute to the F Ring’s constant change in shape, inconsistent with a typical elliptical form.” 

More information about the Cassini Scientist for a Day essay contest, including the winning essays, is online at

More information on the Cassini-Huygens mission is at and

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.

Media Contact:

Preston Dyches 818-354-7013

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Contact for Teachers:

Rachel Zimmerman-Brachman 818-393-6847

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California




Students Chosen As NASA’s Cassini Scientists For A Day

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