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NASA Scientist for a Day 2019-2020: Introduction


[lively music]>>Welcome to the 2019-2020 Scientist for a
Day essay contest. My name is Jay, and
I’m a science writer at NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena, California. My job is to learn
about the planets and the NASA spacecraft
that explore them and write about them so
the public can follow along on our journeys of discovery. Now it’s your turn. This year’s essay contest
topics are three moons in the outer solar system: Uranus’s moon, Miranda;
Neptune’s moon, Triton; and Pluto’s moon, Charon. Back when I was learning
to ride a bicycle, nobody had any idea
what these three distant moons
looked like at all. In fact, until 1959,
we didn’t even know what the back of Earth’s
moon looked like. In 1986, NASA’s
Voyager 2 spacecraft captured images of Miranda. In 1989, Voyager 2
saw Triton up close, and in 2015, NASA’s
New Horizons spacecraft took pictures of Charon. These spacecraft only
flew past the moons, they didn’t orbit them, so we only have up-close images of one side of each
of these moons. Each moon is a whole world, with its own interesting
geology and mysteries to reveal. But Miranda, Triton, and
Charon are very distant. The outer solar system is
extremely far from the Sun, where solar panels
don’t work effectively because sunlight is so dim. Because of this, both
the Voyager 2 spacecraft and the New Horizons spacecraft are powered by
Radioisotope Power Systems, which convert heat
to electricity. We’d love to know what you think about Miranda,
Triton, and Charon. My colleagues, Yackar,
Sabah, and Melissa have their own favorite moons. Watch the videos and
do your own research to study these incredible moons. Your assignment is
to pick the moon you think would be
most interesting to explore in more detail. Write an essay and tell us why. Remember, you’re learning and
writing about outer space, so have fun with it.

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