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International Edition Winners 2011: Romania, Target 3, Grade 9-12

International Edition Winners 2011: Romania, Target 3, Grade 9-12

Delia Iulia Giread?, M?d?lina ?tirbu, Benedic Ancu?a and Radu Irina ?tefania
Delia Iulia Gireadă -- "Vasile Alecsandri" National College (10th grade)
Mădălina Știrbu -- "Vasile Alecsandri" National College (12th grade)
Benedic Ancuța -- "Vasile Alecsandri" National College (10th grade)
Radu Irina Ștefania -- "Ștefan cel Mare" Pedagogical National College (12th grade)

Bacău, Romania

Teacher: Anamia Gireadă

"On its second extension, the Cassini Solstice, after having completed her initial mission for four years, and her first extension, the Cassini mission discloses unexpected, provocative new mysteries about the planet Saturn.

The true king of the ringed planets, the gas giant Saturn surprises through the different characteristics of the emitted radio waves. The periods of the Saturn kilometric radiation differ at the two poles and the phenomenon could be determined by variations in the high-altitude winds in the two hemispheres. There seems to be a connection between the movement in latitude of the northern and southern polar auroras and the variations in the periods of radio waves as both of them are correlated to the planet's magnetosphere that interacts with the Sun. The data provided by Cassini confirms the fact that, as the Sun continues to climb towards the north pole, the period of radio waves at the south pole decreases and the one at the north pole increases. Recently, after analyzing data provided by Cassini, an electrical connection between the Enceladus moon and the planet has been brought to light. In an area of the planet in which high-energy electrons enter the atmosphere, following magnetic field lines that interconnect the two magnetic poles, causing the appearance of polar auroras, a glowing patch of ultraviolet light has been discovered in the northern polar region, but with no matching footprint in the southern polar region. The match for this auroral footprint was found on Enceladus. Measuring 1200 kilometres, this auroral footprint shone with an intensity far less than that of the polar auroras on the planet, but comparable to the faintest terrestrial polar auroras, and the complementary signals detected on Enceladus, congruent with the electrical currents established between the moon and the planet, were accompanied by a hiss-like noise resembling the one from the magnetic interconnection.

The planet presents extremely interesting radiation belts. Composed of ions and electrons that cycle back and forth along the field lines, they are present in the planet's magnetosphere only between zones limited by the orbital distances of the planet's moons. Aside from the permanent radiation belts, Saturn also presents temporary belts whose appearance seems to be connected to intense solar events. Basing on data provided by Cassini, scientists are trying to explain why this planet's radiation belts do not disappear, what mechanisms contribute to their replenishing, what explanation there is for the presence in the belts of electrically charged particles of low-energy along with high-energy ions and electrons, and how these types of belt components interact.

Projected and exploited efficiently, the Cassini Solstice Mission will provide new data that will allow scientists to explain the complex interaction between the Sun and the planet's magnetosphere, the nature and the types of interaction between the planet and its moons, the variations in the intensity of Saturn's radiation belts, as well as the explanation of past and future mysteries."