Selin Hepiseri

Year: 2015-16

School: Üsküdar American Academy

Teacher: Eleanor Pate

Grade: 10

City: Üsküdar, Istanbul


Target: Rings and Moons

"Saturn's moons and rings have been a subject of curiosity for centuries. While the astonishingly beautiful rings give answers to questions about Saturn; Enceladus, Saturn's sixth largest moon, gives us evidence of a possible hope for a new planet that yields life due to past discoveries and its similarities to Earth. Therefore, the image of Saturn's rings and moons will not only help broaden the understanding about the origin of Saturn but also serve up to huge discoveries about a possible life-yielding planet.

Photographing Saturn's moons will give us an image of a potential life source: Enceladus. Enceladus is one of Saturn's sixty-two moons and is covered with a layer of ice with salty, liquid water underneath the surface. The unique quality of Enceladus, which is shooting water from underneath the surface, heat, possibly liquid water and organic chemicals were discovered. Thus, Enceladus is believed to have astrobiological potential due to a theory called "Primary Soup Theory". If there are sources such as heat, organic chemicals and liquid, are there organisms formed and how will they develop under those conditions? Images of Enceladus will help yield these results since they will provide explanatory images.

Enceladus's similarities with Earth also contribute to its astrobiological potential. The water ice jets from Enceladus play a major role in the formation of its magnetosphere. The magnetosphere creates an electromagnetic bubble to protect the material cycle within the planet's fluid interior. Similarly, Earth also forms its magnetosphere that protects the cycle inside from the harmful particles emitted by the Sun but the magnetosphere of Earth is much smaller in scale. With more pictures of Enceladus, the Cassini team will have sufficient information to observe the magnetosphere and understand the complexity of the formation of the protective electromagnetic bubble surrounding Saturn. Furthermore, the discoveries about the magnetosphere can then yield important information about Saturn's interior, processes occurring within and its interaction with the solar wind.

Another photography target on the Cassini mission that will yield valuable information are the rings of Saturn. Saturn's rings are made up of ice, rock and dust. They form a complex place where small moons and ring particles collide. Waves and jets constantly form and dissipate. Although the elements that make up the rings and how particles inside the rings behave are known, their date of formation is not. The image that centers Saturn's rings will help scientists understand the overall question of age and the origin of Saturn's rings. Understanding when the rings were formed and how Saturn came to be will also yield results about the complexity of galaxies.

Saturn's rings and moons are integral but mysterious elements of our solar system. The images of Enceladus, give rise to ideas about another life-yielding planet, help understand the formation of magnetosphere and the processes within Saturn. The images of the rings yield information about the age of the rings and therefore origin of Saturn. Photographing Saturn's rings and moons hold great potential for future discoveries."

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