Four Gujarati students win NASAs essay competition on Saturn

Written by Syed Khalique Ahmed | Ahmedabad | Updated: Mar 30 2013, 21:30pm hrs
NasaA total of 141 entries were sent from India, six of the winners, including the four from Gujarat are girls. (Reuters)
Nine students in the age group of 10 to 18 years from India, four of them from Gujarat, have been declared winners in an international Cassini Scientists for a Day Essay Contest 2012 organised by NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

A total of 141 entries were sent from India. Six of the winners, including the four from Gujarat are girls.

Each of these essays, running into 500 words, have been uploaded on NASAs website. Since the launch of the contest in 2010, it is for the first time that Indian students have triumphed in this global contest.

Cassini is a NASA spacecraft sent to the Saturn in October 1997 with a mission to study the three-diemnsional structure and dynamic behaviour of the rings of Saturn and composition of satellite surfaces. Since then it is regularly sending images.

The objective of the contest was to gather information about what the students knew about the Saturn. The students, participating in the contest, were asked to write what did they know about one of the three targets: Saturn and its seven rings, pan moon which is innermost moon of the Saturn and F ring of the Saturn.

Four of the winners said they had interest in astronomy and wanted to go for higher studies in the subject.

Urja Pandya, Std X student of Baroda High School (Alkapuri branch), said she was not influenced by any of the astronauts but had deep interest in astronomy. I want to do research in astrophysics, she said, adding she prepared her essay by reading literature available on the net and encyclopaedia.

Dhruv Kumar, a Std X student of St. Pauls School at Begusarai, said, he developed interest in astronomy after coming in contact with Kolkata Astronomy Centre representatives Kostov Chaudhary and Tharthasarthy Roy when they visited his home town in June 2009. I kept in touch with them discussing celestial objects and also took their help in writing the essay, he said.

Daughter of a retired Army officer Dhara Sharma, who is Std VI student of Gayatri Vidyapith Shantikunj at Haridwar, said she was inspired by her teachers in study of astronomy. So, when I came to know of the contest, I wrote the essay in consultation with my teacher Vidyadhar Badve, said Sharma.