Year: 2015-16

School: - Vikas - The Concept School

Grade: 8

City: Telangana


Target: Rhea and Tethys

"The night sky has always inspired me to explore our solar system. Today, this inspiration combined with my imagination is the main thing which is going to help me. The Cassini-Huygens' spacecraft has been in space for 18 years, 8 months and 2 days since it was launched from Cape Canaveral on 15th October 1997. It has always being providing us valuable information about our solar system. It is always tough when we are choosing between infinite possibilities when we are exploring something. So, I chose to turn Cassini's cameras towards Rhea and Tethys.

Rhea and Tethys are two of the 62 moons of Saturn. In the given picture, occultation is shown. Occultation happens when one celestial body, like a planet or a moon, passes in front of another, hiding it from view. This phenomenon helps us to determine their orbits accurately, as these orbits change slowly over time.

Rhea and Tethys are very mysterious moons and very little is known about them. Tethys is located in the E-ring, while Rhea is located beyond the E-ring.

Rhea is the second largest moon of Saturn. Rhea's inner structure is unknown to humans. Some scientists say that it has a rocky core, while other scientists argue that it is same throughout. When the Cassini visited Rhea in 2005, it took pictures of it which showed a faint equatorial ring system!!! It is quite surprising to know that a moon has its own ring system. But, with a possibility that Rheas' gravitational force pulled some dust particles from the rings of Saturn, it might be true, making it the only moon with its own ring system in the whole solar system. But later, when the Cassini made several observations of the putative ring plane from several angles, there was no trace of ring material. A large butterfly shaped crater named Inktomi is also present on its surface.

Then, what about Tethys? Well, Tethys was discovered by Giovanni Domenico Cassini in 1684. It is very intriguing because it is has a composition consisting mainly water ice and a small amount of rocks. Recently, the Cassini spacecraft has discovered some reddish streaks, also called as "tiger streaks" which don't have any connection with its surface. These streaks might also be colonies of extra-terrestrial organisms. The Cassini conducted many flybys during the years 2004, 2005 and 2008 which gave us a detailed insight of Tethys. Cassini's force scheduled for more non-targeted flybys between 2011 and 2017.

We know very little about Saturn's Moons like Rhea and Tethys. So, I believe that studying about these moons will give us more fruitful results about these moons enhancing our knowledge of them along with giving us an accurate insight into them. These moons have always been a mystery to us. But they will never remain as a mystery to us. I hope that NASA will conduct more missions which will help us to explore more about our universe."

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