More than 1050 people submitted ideas for waving at Saturn from the edge of space. Each entry was carefully considered by our panel of judges. Points were awarded for creativity, practicality, and connections to the themes of Saturn, the Pale Blue Dot, scientific discovery and interplanetary photography.

And the winners are...

KIDS' CATEGORY (under 16 years)

First place: Emily Tomaka, age 7, The UV beads experiment

Emily said "I would like to send up ultraviolet beads to measure UV light at different levels between the surface of the Earth and the edge of space."

Emily wins an Explore Scientific AR102 Air-Spaced Doublet Refractor! $599 retail value.

honorable mention: Elizabeth Palmer, age 15, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Elizabeth said, "It would be reason to panic if the Wave at Saturn Research Balloon was not armed with a copy of Douglas Adams' modern classic, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. As a minute object drifting towards infinite space, enveloped in the inky aura of the unknown, a copy of the guide (and perhaps a good towel) would prove indescribably useful. Because, in the words of that wholly remarkable book: Space is big. Really Big, You just won't believe how vastly hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. I can’t think of a more fitting homage to the late Mr. Adams than send his literary masterpiece to the edge of space, winking down at the brilliant garden of life we call home."

honorable mention: Byron Harris, age 11, Cassini team photo

Byron said, "I think you should send a picture of NASA’s Cassini design team into space."

ADULT CATEGORY (16 and over)

winner: Eric Jude, age 28, vial of water

Eric said, "Send a small vial of water. Our bodies are about 70% water… the surface of our planet is covered with about the same percentile of water as our bodies. Without water there would be no life on our terrestrial home. Without the gift of water on this planet, humans would not exist… our innovations would never came to be… we would not be able to photograph Earth through the rings of Saturn. Without water our solar system would be devoid of life. Water is the reason we exist… its more than just a rainy day, more than a beverage, more than a day at the beach… it makes us… it is us…"

Note: The balloon flight team is looking forward to watching the water crystallize as it ascends through the tropopause where the temperature is -63 C. We also note that Saturn's rings are made substantially of water.

Eric wins an Explore Scientific ED80 Air-Spaced Triplet Refractor! $999 retail value.

honorable mention: Earth to Sky Calculus, ages 16 - 49: the Galileo Bobblehead

Earth to Sky Calculus said, "We propose a Galileo bobblehead, because Gailieo was the first person to see Saturn's rings through a telescope. Also, the nodding head will add something dynamic to the video and Galileo's beard will wave at Saturn."

honorable mention: Liam Schmidt, age 17, Hula-hoop Champion

Liam said "This image NEEDS to be up there!"

honorable mention: Gabriel Restrepo, aged 30, a plant in a small boot

Gabriel said, "I would like to send a little plant planted in a old shoe, like we saw on the movie Wall-E. This is a cool proof of life in our planet."

Note: This suggestion ties in with Saturn as a mythological god of agriculture. Plus, sending a plant plus some seeds could serve as a secondary experiment to study the effect of near-space flight on agriculture.

  On July 3rd, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew an Explore Scientific telescope to the edge of space.  
  Here, we see the telescope suspended beneath the helium balloon. The sky is space-black at noon time.  
  The balloon popped at the apex of the flight, approximately 109,000 feet above Earth.  
  Moments later, the parachute deployed and lowered the telescope gently back to Earth's surface.  
©2013 All rights reserved.