Don Savage
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1727)
Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
(Phone: 818/354-6278)
Craig Campbell
Lewis Center for Educational Research, Apple Valley, CA
(Phone: 760/946-5414, ext. 216)

Students at 25 middle schools and high schools in 13 states are remotely controlling huge radio-telescope dishes in the California desert from their classroom computers this fall and winter.
Their work will aid studies of Jupiter to be made by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft as it flies past that planet. The students are using telescopes near Barstow, CA, at the Goldstone tracking station of the Deep Space Network, which the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, operates for NASA.
Students’ monitoring of natural radio-wave emissions from Jupiter’s atmosphere and radiation belts over the next few months will help with the interpretation of measurements that Cassini will take during a few days in early January.
“We know that the radio emission from Jupiter’s radiation belts changes over time, and we want to know whether Cassini is looking on a normal day or an unusual day,” said Dr. Scott Bolton, a JPL physicist and a Cassini science team member. “The observations the students collect will be our primary gauge to determine the state of the radiation belts.”
The students’ data will also be used to calibrate Cassini’s radio gear for scientific studies to be conducted after the spacecraft reaches its main destination, Saturn, in 2004.
Courtney Smith, a junior at Redlands East Valley High School in Redlands, CA, keyed numbers into a classroom computer one recent evening as other students clustered around to watch. Another computer in the room carried a live picture via the Internet of the 112-foot-(34-meter) diameter dish that Smith’s commands were steering, about 120 miles (about 200 kilometers) away. She pointed the radio telescope a little to one side of Jupiter, then did a scan across the disc of the planet while other students wrote down measurements of radio-wave intensities the telescope detected at different wavelengths.
The telescope is the Goldstone-Apple Valley Radio Telescope, one of a group of large radio-antenna dishes at the Goldstone tracking station. This antenna was formerly used for communications with NASA spacecraft, the main mission of Deep Space Network stations around the world, but it now is available for schools’ use through a partnership of JPL, NASA and the non-profit Lewis Center for Educational Research, in Apple Valley, CA. The Lewis Center develops lesson plans and conducts teacher training to get maximum educational benefit out of students’ use of the telescope. A second 112-foot (34-meter) dish at Goldstone is also being used by students in the project to support Cassini.
Brian Dansereau, a Redlands East Valley junior writing down measurements of Jupiter’s radio emissions, said he likes the unpredictability of this real research, compared with textbook learning. “It inspires you to go on and do more in science,” he said.
Other schools participating in the project range from Sanford Middle School in Opelika, AL, to University Public School in Detroit, MI.
The research helps students understand that visible light is not the only way to see the universe. “In visible light, we see Jupiter’s atmosphere, its clouds, its Great Red Spot,” said Dr. Michael Klein, manager of the Deep Space Network’s science office. “At some radio frequencies, we see deeper into the atmosphere and measure its temperature. At longer radio wavelengths, the students are measuring emissions from the radiation belt around Jupiter that you can’t see with your eyes, but that is being generated by electrons and protons zipping around Jupiter at close to the speed of light.”
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.

Students at the following schools are participating in the
Cassini-Jupiter Microwave Observing Campaign by remotely
controlling NASA radio telescopes through the Lewis Center for
Educational Research. Teachers’ names and contact numbers are also


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

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

Opelika, Opelika Middle School
Michele Matin, (334) 705-0011, and Farrell Seymore, (334)

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


Apple Valley, Lewis Center for Educational Research
Dan Dorcey and Dave McLaren, (760) 242-3514, and Kyle Gay,
(760) 946-5414

Apple Valley, Mojave Mesa Elementary School
Meg Deppee and Melissa Face, (760) 242-5883

Apple Valley, Vista Compana Middle School
Linda Smith, (760) 242-7011

Glendora, Glendora High School
Rana El Youself, (626) 963-5731

La Verne, Ramona Middle School
Shahin Massoudi, Margaret Rasmussen and Dick Swinney, (909)
394-3181, and Mark Rodgers, (909) 394-2036

Pasadena, Don Benito Fundamental Elementary School
Linda Bush, (626) 351-8895

Redlands, Redlands East Valley High School
Joe Monaco, (909) 389-2500 ext. 4506

San Diego, Harborside School
Bob Arii, (619) 235-0950


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


Columbus, Pacelli High School

Luther Richardson, (706) 561-8243


Coeur d’Alene, Lakes Middle School

Chris Lind, (208) 667-4544


Brownstown, Brownstown Central High School
Ronald Slaton, (812) 358-3453


Huxley, Ballard Junior High School
Deb Williams, (515) 597-2971

Slater, Ballard Community Schools
Scott Barth, (515) 685-3890


Detroit, University Public School
Ruby Rohn, (734) 964-1600


Gulfport, Gulfport High School
Roy Wilson, (228) 896-7525

Lucedale, George County Middle School

Jay Mills, (601) 947-3106

Lucedale, George County Middle School
Debra Wilson, (601) 947-3106


Medford, St. Mary’s School
Holly DeBunce-Bensel, (541) 773-7877


Erie, East High School
Richard Fetzner, (814) 874-6400 ext. 120

Erie, Strong Vincent High School
Deb Beard and Clive Tattersail, (814) 874-6500


Camden, Camden Middle School
Kathy Dozier, (803) 425-8975


Buda, Barton Junior High School
Debbie Hix, (512) 268-1472