Year: 2018-19

Tudor Curtu

School: Colegiul National Andrei Saguna

Teacher: Carmen Tănăsescu

City: Brasov

"Since I was little I enjoyed learning about the universe. I am very curious and this contest uses this, so I want to participate. I find it interesting how students like me can help NASA or ESA researchers send a space probe to one of the three targets, and at the same time learn about them.

Enceladus, Titan and Europe are all three places where water in the form of ice and liquid is found. Water is a vital resource for organisms. In addition, water mixes things so it can form more complex substances or even life, so we have chances to find organisms on them. Even if there are less chances to find life on Titan, we can send a probe there for another purpose: Terraforming Titan. This means turning Titan into a place where people can live (easily). Titan is the only place in the Solar System that has a liquid on it’s surface (except Earth) consisting of water and methane. Titan also has a water cycle. However, why send a space probe there? Because we do not know everything yet, this process has not been tested yet. Titan is used in this case more as an experiment, so we can learn from it for the future.

Global warming is a serious problem on earth, being caused by gases such as CO2 or methane because they produce the greenhouse effect. But for Titan we can use this phenomenon to our advantage. Titan is very cold and that's why there's frozen methane. If we can melt it with mirrors placed on the orbit of the satellite, the methane will rise and produce the greenhouse effect, warming Titan's surface. The mirrors will be built with the origami principle, being very small when it is launched and unpacked once it arrives at its destination. To check temperatures, atmospheric pressures, etc., we will use small robots so small that they can fit into your pocket. The advantage of small robots is the price, and more robots can be sent at a time and fuel as these machines use Microfluidic Electrospray Propulsion (MEP). This mode of transport uses forces that are negligible to humans, but for small things aren’t (surface tension, etc.). Once Titan has warmed up, the atmosphere will be transformed into a breathable one. After some time, plants and animals will be brought to analyze their health reaction to such environments or people who volunteer. The interesting thing is that all of these technologies exist and they are waiting to be used.

However, why explore space if we have enough problems on earth? The question can be formulated: "Why did our ancestors explore the seas when they had so many problems on the continent?" The answer is the same. The thing is that because we are exploring new places, we find solutions to existing problems such as global warming, in the end Titan can be a great help for humanity."

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