Cassini: Scientist for a Day

Program Element / Activity Title:
Cassini: Scientist for a Day
E/PO Project Name:
Cassini Mission to Saturn Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Program
Contact Information:
Mail Stop 230-280
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
Program Element / Activity Website:
Short Description:
Cassini Scientist for a Day (CSFAD) - CSFAD is a semi-annual Saturn essay contest for U.S. students in grades 5-12.  Students research Saturn and its rings and moons, and write a coherent argument for their selection to be imaged by the Cassini spacecraft.  Essays are submitted online and judged by Cassini team members, and winners participate in teleconferences with Cassini scientists.   <>
Program Element / Activity Status
Please share any additional updates or information about your program element / activity:
The Titan & Europa Essay Contest, run for the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and the GRAIL Naming Contest, were based on the structure and best practices from the Cassini Scientist for a Day Essay Contest.
Audience Metrics
Who is the primary audience of your program element / activity?:
Who is the secondary audience of your program element / activity?:
National Priorities and Coordination Approaches as Articulated in CoSTEM:
  • Increase and Sustain Youth and Public Engagement in STEM
What are the goals and objectives of your program element / activity?:
The goals of the Cassini Scientist for a Day Essay Contest are to actively engage more students in grades 5-12 with the process of doing planetary science, choosing targets for the Cassini spacecraft's cameras, asking questions about Saturn and its rings and moons, learning from Cassini scientists about what they think is interesting about the Saturn system, learning how Cassini captures data and returns it to Earth. Another goal is to have more students see themselves in the role of NASA scientists, imagine themselves having STEM careers, and see Cassini scientists as a diverse group of people, similar to themselves and their classmates. Winning students and their classes interact directly (via videoconference) with Cassini scientists, in question-and-answer sessions which give students additional opportunities to find out what life as a NASA scientist is like.
What are the main impacts of your effort to date and how do they correlate to the project's goals and objectives:
We were able to track some of the students who were past contest winners who have since gone on to graduate from college with degrees in STEM fields.
Have your evaluation findings / impacts been published? If so, where?:
Cassini Scientist for a Day was presented as a poster at the AGU (American Geophysical Union) conference and at the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences conference.