We invite all Australian students from Year 5 to Year 11 to explore the three moons that NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft briefly visited during its historic journey through the solar system.

Your mission is to study three of Uranus’ moons: Ariel, Oberon, and Titania. Then, choose the one you think would be the best place to return with another spacecraft someday.

In January 1986, the mighty spacecraft reached the Uranus system. Voyager 2 took as many images as possible of anything within sight. Those were very brief visits, though, and we only know what one side of these faraway moons looks like.

Which of these three moons inspires you to explore further? What excites you about what we’ve learned so far? What do you hope we’ll find if we return to these places?

Support your choice in an essay of no more than 300 words.

Topic 1: Ariel

Ariel is believed to be the least cratered of all the moons orbiting Uranus. Carbon dioxide has been detected there.

More on Ariel >>

Topic 2: Oberon

Oberon, Uranus’ second largest moon, has a mountain that rises more than 6 kilometres off the surface.

More on Oberon >>

Topic 3: Titania

Titania, Uranus’ largest moon, has a system of fault valleys that stretches about 1,600 kilometres.

More on Titania >>

Voyager 2

The only spacecraft to fly by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, Voyager 2 is now exploring the edge of the solar system. Thanks to its RTG, Voyager 2 continues to explore the outermost reaches of our sun’s influence, where the solar wind interacts with the interstellar wind of our galaxy.

More on Voyager 2 >>

Explore Uranus’ Moons

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew closely past Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun. At its closest, the spacecraft came within 81,500 kilometres of Uranus’s cloud tops on Jan. 24, 1986. Voyager 2 radioed thousands of images and voluminous amounts of other scientific data on the planet, its moons, rings, atmosphere, interior and the magnetic environment surrounding Uranus. Follow Voyager 2 mission, courtesy of NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System software.

View the full experience >>

What Power a Spacecraft?

There are no gas stations or power outlets in space! That’s why NASA spacecraft that explore the solar system use something called “radioisotope power.” Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Watch video >>

Rules & FAQ

Australian Rules
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  • Placement in the activity will be confirmed by reply email. Completing and submitting the form does not guarantee a place.
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Essay entries for the Australian contest must be received by April 1, 2021 at 5 p.m. Sydney time.
Teachers: If you make the essay a class assignment, please be sure to set an internal deadline for your students so that you have time to read your students’ essays and submit only the top three essays per class.

This opportunity is open to all students in Australia who are in grades 5 to 11.

• Students can work alone or in teams of up to four students.

• All submissions must be students’ original work. Entries containing plagiarized material will be disqualified.

• Each student may submit only one entry.

• Do not include direct contact information for students under age 18. All communication will be conducted between One Giant Leap Australia, NASA JPL and the students’ teacher.

• Essays that are longer than 300 words will be disqualified.

• The names and contact information will not be included in the word count for the 300-word essay.

• Use only plain text (no images or attachments). Attachments will not be accepted.

• Communication skills are an important part of being a scientist. Spelling and grammar will be considered in addition to the ideas expressed in the essay.

Essay writers will be divided into three groups:

1. grades 5 to 6
2. grades 7 to 8
3. grades 9 to 11


A winning essay will be selected for each topic in each grade group.

• There will be an official submission form for students in Australia.

• By participating, students agree to assign copyright to One Giant Leap Australia and NASA JPL so that JPL and NASA can post the essays, as excerpts or in their entirety, on One Giant Leap Australia social media platforms, NASA Web sites, along with the authors’ name, grade, school, city, and state.

• Those participating in the Australian contest must use the official submission form.

• Entries must be submitted by teachers.

• Your name, email address, telephone number including area code, and the name and address of the school, so that we may contact you.

• The name(s) and grade(s) of all students who contributed to each essay (a maximum of four per essay).

• You are welcome (and encouraged) to use this contest as a class assignment. However, you can ONLY submit the top three essays from each of your classes for us to judge.

• Only the top three essays from each class will be included in the judging. After submitting your top three essays per class, please send an email to [email protected] with the list of names of other students from your class(es) who wrote essays so we can make certificates of participation for them. If you teach more than one class, you may submit up to three top essays per class.

• Once winners are selected, winners’ teachers will be contacted and asked to provide a photograph of the student(s) to post on our website along with the winning essays. Parents/guardians must submit written authorisation to let us post the photos online.

The decision of the judges is final.

• The winning Australian schools will be invited to participate in a teleconference or videoconference with NASA JPL scientists and/or engineers. NASA stickers, badges and other relevant prizes will be awarded.

How do I submit my student’s essay?

Teachers in Australia must use the online submission form.

Who can participate in the essay contest?

This contest is open to all students in Australia in grades 5 to 11.

Can home-schooled students enter this essay contest?


Do I need to include citations or a bibliography?

Your teacher may require you to include citations and/or a bibliography if the essay is a class assignment. For the purposes of the contest, however, we don’t require one, and the judges won’t read bibliographies. You do not need to send us a bibliography along with your essay.

What is the prize for Australian (non U.S.) contest winners?

All Australian winners of the Scientist for a Day essay contest will have their essays posted on NASA’s Solar System Exploration website. Australian winners and their classes will be invited to participate in videoconferences or teleconferences with NASA JPL scientists and/or engineers so the students can have their questions answered. All participants will receive a certificate.

Can students at a Museum, Science Centre, Astronomy Club or After-school program participate?

Yes, but please have your program coordinator contact us at [email protected] for the details on how to submit.

Can I choose to write about more than one moon?

No, you have to choose just one moon in your essay. Being able to describe which target you think will return the most interesting scientific data is one of the main points of this activity.

English is not my first language. Does my essay have to be written in English?

The contest for students in Australia is only accepting essays in English.

Can students from different grades work together?

Yes, but you must indicate the grade level for each student who wrote the essay, and the essay will be judged in the grade category of the oldest student who collaborated on the essay.

Scientist for a day flyer – 2021
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