Sheila Kanani

well done Adam! Gutted all the winners are boys though! :)

Favourite Thing: –Learn or find new things that no one else has ever seen before. –Look at amazing pictures of Saturn, other planets, the Earth from space, galaxies and everything else! –Follow astronauts and the human and robotic missions and pretend that I am on a shuttle on my way to Mars :)



Wimbledon High School from 1989 – 2001 (age 7 to age 18)


University of Manchester, 2002 – 2006, Physics with Astrophysics

Work History:

I’ve had lots of summer jobs, like in a post office and Argos, and lots of scientific summer placements, but because I’ve been in education my whole life I’ve never had a ‘proper’ job. Hopefully I’ll get one by the end of this year, when I finish my PhD.


I work at Mullard Space Science Laboratory

Current Job:

I am a PhD student studying Saturn using the Cassin spacecraft

Me and my work

Trying to find out more about The Lord of the Rings, aka Saturn, and its rings and its moons, using the Cassini spacecraft.

At the moment I am investigating one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus. This moon is 1/230th the size of Saturn but it is really influencial in the whole saturnian system. This little moon is covered in ice, and in the ice there are cracks. From these cracks we have seen water spewing out….which indicates there are liquid oceans on Enceladus!


The plume of material coming from Enceladus has created one of Saturn’s rings, the E ring. Just goes to show that small things like Enceladus can have huge impact on a global scale. I like the idea of that because I’m a pretty small scientist hopefully making a huge impact on science!


Where I work is pretty cool. It is a huge house in the middle of the countryside in Surrey and it has been a stately home and a school in the past. Now it is home to some of the most prolific scientists and engineers in the UK! We have clean rooms, a library, a conference room, a swimming pool and a football pitch here. And if you look closely you’ll find the button that opens up the car park to reveal the Batcave underneath 😉


My Typical Day

Looking at new data from the Cassini spacecraft to learn more about Saturn and draw new conclusions about the saturnian system.

Every day is difference when you are a planetary scientist. Here at my lab we built one of the instruments on board the Cassini spacecraft, which is orbiting Saturn at the moment.

Because we built it we get all the data, which means we get to look at results that no one else has ever seen before! We analyse the data using computer programs, then draw conclusions from what we see.


We present our work in scientific papers or we visit conferences and give talks.


One of my favourite things about my work is that everything is pretty flexible, which means I can take days out of the lab so I can visit schools and give workshops about space, or teach the public to make planetary landers using eggs as the precious payload. Watch out, they normally get scrambled!


I took a really cool photo the other day, with my phone camera, of the Internation Space Station! Its amazing, but I can’t get it to load onto here, grrr! 🙂

What I'd do with the money

Can I spend it on getting you guys to visit me at work? Maybe like my very own Space Camp! We could do astronaut training….


I’m in it to win it! I want to win so that you can come and visit me in person! So vote for me if you like what you read…


Maybe I could use it to get some of you guys to come and visit me here at the lab for a whole day or maybe even a weekend. We could make rockets then launch them and I could give you a tour of the lab.

It is an amazing, huge house in the countryside with labs and clean rooms and engineering blocks. There is lots to see and loads of people to meet. We could spend the day at the lab, you could meet and chat to the scientists, then we could build and launch the rockets, make comets using dry ice, control lunar rovers….there is so much to do!

After that we could have a bbq and a swim (yes we have a pool) and if it is a clear night we can have a star show then camp over.

How much fun would that be?


Or I’d like to spend the money on making another movie….maybe this time I could do a documentary on the last ever Shuttle launch, I’d love to do that. If you like my other movies (see my links) let me know and I can get a movie in the making….you could all have cameos!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Coke-float drinking pocket-rocket (the hyphens allow five words to = three!)

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Varies on my mood, everything from The Killers to Michael Jackson to Take That to Michael Buble!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Going to Space Camp in the USA! We got to fly a (mock) shuttle and wear flight suits and scuba dive. It was awesome!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

For myself? That is a hard one! I’d like to walk on the Moon, or Mars. I’d like to visit Saturn to see what I’d been working with these past few years. I’d like to discover aliens and win the Nobel Prize for Physics in doing so! [myimage10 centre]

What did you want to be after you left school?

An astronaut…..and I still do!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

I tried to be, but I was a bit of a goody-two-shoes ;p

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Being a scientist has meant I’ve gotten to travel all over the world; Australia, New Mexico, San Fransisco and Russia to name but a few.

Tell us a joke.

How do you know that Saturn has been married more than once? Because he has lots of rings.