NASA scientist for a day

The competition has closed for 2020. Congratulations to our winners, Sophie Ineson and Oshadha Perera. Please stay tuned for updates on NASA Scientist for a Day 2021.

NASA scientist for a day banner


NASA Scientist for a Day is a worldwide competition that NASA put on each year inviting students to write a 500-word essay to answer a question about our unique solar system and the exciting word of astronomy.

The New Zealand Space Agency hosted the competition for the first time in 2019 inviting Years 7-10 students to submit a 500-word essay answering the question:

Which of Uranus’ moon Miranda, Neptune’s moon Triton, or Pluto’s moon Charon should NASA send another spacecraft to explore and why?


We would like to give a big congratulations to our two winners. The Year 7-8 winner was Sophie Ineson of Southland Girls High School and the Year 9-10 winner was Oshadha Perera of Southland Boys High School. Their winning submissions can be read below.

Prize change

Due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the winners will instead receive a Sky-Watcher 6″ Dobsonian telescope from Astronz and the help of the Southland Astronomical Society to learn how to use them. Happy Stargazing! Thanks to the Wellington Astronomical Society for helping organise a suitable at-home astronomical alternative.

NASA Scientist for a Day 2021

The New Zealand Space Agency and the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment plan to host the NASA Scientist for a Day competition in 2021.

The format will likely be very similar to the 2020 competition, with teachers required to submit essays on behalf of students. We welcome (and encourage) the use of this competition as a class assignment. If teachers are interested in getting their students to participate in the competition, then they could consider planning a space-related topic for term 1 of 2021 to coincide with the competition.

Please stay tuned to MBIE’s social media channels or this website for updates.

Last updated: 21 May 2020