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International Edition Winners 2012: Pakistan, Grade 11-12, Target 1

International Edition Winners 2012: Pakistan, Grade 11-12, Target 1

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Target 1, Pan
Amna Komal

Garrison Academy, Kharian Cantt
12th Grade

"Cassini is the second largest inter planetary probe working and researching on planet Saturn. Cassini has assigned an essay and has asked that which of the three targets should be the priority to gain scientific benefits from. Of the three targets set by Cassini, the most fascinating to study and learn and gather scientific knowledge from should be the target 1- Pan. Named after the God of shepherd- Pan is the innermost of the Saturn's known moons located within the Encke gap of Saturn's A-ring. It holds very important position being a shepherd moon, having effect of sculpting the rings giving them sharp edges and creating gaps between them, to learn more about its behavior as a shepherd would be not less than a treasure, as it is responsible for keeping the Encke gap open and free of particles. M. R. Showalter discovered this moon, which is closest to Saturn, orbiting at 13.8 hrs- the fastest, to carry on his discovery and know about the influence of Pan on Saturn and the mystery in being so fast will be informative. Pan is vital in maintaining the particles in horse- shoe orbit, due to the coincident orbit of pan with Encke's gap ringlet. Pan orbits within its main rings and helps sweep materials out of a narrow space Known as Encke cap. Another appealing cause to learn about Pan is eccentricity of its orbit causing its distance from Saturn to vary by 4 km and its orbital inclination causing Pan to move up and down The study of pan's enigmatic walnut shape would tell us about other moons and history of Saturn and Earth plus other solar systems at large; it will also give a chance for extra solar astronomy. It would be a great chance to investigate the interaction of pan with Saturn's magnetosphere and ring systems, if Cassini would keep advancing on Pan.

Scientist of Cassini-Huygens mission should quest for organic materials, hydrocarbons, methane and nitrogen on Pan, which could be an initiative to do initial space engineering and get fuel out these elements. By studying it evolutionary history and about the catalysts found in Pan's atmosphere we can get clue about the biochemical reactions leading to life on Earth and possibility of survival on other Planets. Pan should be explored more to reveal the untold things, such as- geological characteristics and geological history of Pan, different physical processes that created surface of Pan, composition and distribution of Pan and its internal structure and most significantly find the environment potentially habitat able for life. Chemical laboratories on Pan could be established and long lasting mysteries of Earth could also be solved.

Cassini should take more valuable images of Pan, having appreciable information about the processes, such as, vertical displacement occurring in the rings and shadows cast by moons due to their orbital inclination. Effects of gravity of Pan on Saturn could be a point to ponder for scientists. Acknowledging the benefits of exploring Pan would enormously increase the scientific treasure of knowledge."