Titan and Europa Essay ContestStudents: NASA scientists want to know what you think about whether NASA's next big mission to the outer solar system should go to Saturn's moon, Titan, or Jupiter's moon, Europa. Both of these moons are fascinating places to explore. Current and previous missions like the Cassini mission orbiting Saturn and the Galileo mission that orbited Jupiter sent back images of these two moons. Scientists want to know whether life could exist on these moons.
Astrobiologists are scientists who search for life beyond Earth. So far, the only life we have found is on our own planet, the Earth. Scientists are very interested in knowing whether life could exist elsewhere in the solar system. Titan and Europa are two very interesting moons that astrobiologists are interested in.
Watch these videos about astrobiology and about why astrobiologists are interested in sending missions to Titan and Europa, and the engineering challenges of exploring Titan and Europa, then you get to choose which moon you would send a spacecraft to explore, if you could.
The Titan mission would include a Titan orbiter and a Titan balloon. The Europa mission would include a Europa orbiter and a Europa lander. The orbiters, balloon, and lander would each have science instruments to study either Titan or Europa. In your essay, you can include information about what science instruments you would put on the orbiter and balloon or lander, if you wish, based on what you hope to find on Titan or Europa.
After watching the videos, do your own research to learn more about Titan and Europa, and write an essay (no longer than 500 words) to tell us why you think we should go to Titan or to Europa. You can use the resources mentioned on Useful Links page.
The framework for this contest is that no outer planet mission has been selected for further development. Students are being asked to explain what they think should come next.
Give your essay to your teacher, and have your teacher submit your contest entry on your behalf.
NASA will send certificates of participation to all students who enter the contest. Winning essays will be posted on a NASA website, and the winners and their classes will be invited to participate in a question-and-answer teleconference, videoconference, or web conversation with NASA scientists.
This contest is sponsored by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, with participation from the Titan Astrobiology team and the Astrobiology of Icy Worlds team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Please note: This contest is open to all students in the United States who are in grades 5 to 12.