Students in at least six states will join California
astronomers in a live Internet teleconference Thursday, March
15, to analyze new data about Jupiter’s radiation belts, much
of it collected by the students using huge radio-telescope
dishes operated by remote control from their classrooms.

Since November, students at 25 middle schools and high
schools from Alabama to Idaho have been measuring natural
radio-wave emissions from Jupiter’s atmosphere and radiation
belts in a project coordinated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and the Lewis Center for
Educational Research, Apple Valley, Calif. Their results are
contributing to the interpretation of some measurements taken
by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft as it flew near Jupiter this
winter on its way to reach Saturn in 2004.

The science team is using the data to learn more about
the intensity of radiation from high-energy electrons close to
Jupiter and to calibrate one of Cassini’s instruments that
will study radio emissions from Saturn’s rings and Saturn’s
moon Titan. The scientists will hold a team meeting at JPL
Thursday and have asked the students to participate over an
Internet connection. The public is invited to watch and
listen, too. The three-hour event will begin at 9 a.m. PST
(noon EST) Thursday at .
Listening in requires free pre-registration with
LiveOnTheNet at .

“We want the students to experience the next stage of the
scientific process,” said Dr. Michael Klein, JPL’s manager of
science projects for the Deep Space Network. “Once you collect
data, there is still a lot of work to do to analyze and
interpret the results. Typically, the team of scientists
working on a project meets together to do that, and the
students are part of our team for this project.”

To collect the data, the students used two dish antennas,
each 34 meters (112 feet) in diameter, near Barstow, Calif.,
at the Goldstone tracking station of the worldwide Deep Space
Network, which JPL operates for NASA. The network’s antennas
serve primarily for communications with spacecraft, but can
double as radio telescopes for listening to natural radio-wave
sources. One of Goldstone’s older antennas has been dedicated
to student use coordinated by the Lewis Center. Students also
used a second one during the Jupiter observing campaign
associated with Cassini’s Jupiter flyby.

“The opportunity to do real science provides a tremendous
educational experience for the students,” said Jim Roller,
Lewis Center vice president of science and technology.
“Conferring with scientists who are working with the data that
the students collected will add an extra dimension for
understanding the significance of what they are doing.”

Radio emissions from Jupiter’s radiation belts change
over time. During a few days in January, Cassini was able to
measure details of the emissions that are unobtainable from
Earth. Measurements that the students and other observers have
collected from Earth-based telescopes over a period of several
months will help with determining whether Cassini’s
observations came at a time when overall emissions were
typical or a time when they were unusually strong or weak,
Klein said.

Scientists participating in Thursday’s Internet
conference will include Klein and JPL’s Dr. Scott Bolton, Dr.
Steven Levin and Dr. Michael Janssen. The participating
schools are in Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho
and Pennsylvania.

Cassini 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
Cassini for NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.
Further information about students’ use of the Goldstone
telescopes and about Cassini’s Jupiter flyby is available at .

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3/13/01 GW
2001 – 54

NOTE TO EDITORS: A list of teacher contacts at the
participating schools follows.


Brewton Middle School, Brewton, Carrie Riggs Brown, (334) 867-8420

Oak Mountain Middle School, Birmingham, Anthony Walker, (205) 682-5210

Sanford Middle School, Opelika, Frank Ware, (334) 745-5023


Mojave Mesa Elementary, Apple Valley, Melissa Face, (760) 242-5883
Vista Compana Middle School, Apple Valley, Linda Smith, (760) 242-7011
Lewis Center for Educational Research, Apple Valley, Dan Dorcey, (760) 242-3514

Ramona Middle School, LaVerne, Mark Rodgers, (909) 394-2036
Redlands East Valley High School, Redlands, Joe Monaco, (909) 389-2500 ext. 4506

Coca Cola Science Center, Columbus, Luther Richardson, (706) 561-8243

COLORADO: Connect Middle School, Pueblo, Lee Hawkins, (719) 542-0224


Lakes Middle School, Coeur d’Alene, Chris Lind, (208) 667-4544

PENNSYLVANIA: Strong Vincent High School, Erie, Deb Beard, (814) 874-6500