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International Edition Winners 2012: Pakistan, Grade 11-12, Target 3

International Edition Winners 2012: Pakistan, Grade 11-12, Target 3

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Target 3, Saturn
Sarah Salahuddin
Gulraiz Haider
Sahir Noorali
Komal Hakim Ali

Aga Khan Higher Secondary School
12th Grade

"I still remember the first time I pointed the telescope at the sky and I saw Saturn with the rings. It was a beautiful image."

-- Umberto Guidoni

"The intricately arranged, beautiful rings of Saturn are hypnotic enough to grab ones attention. Moreover, its many unexplained but interesting phenomena and mysteries make it an even more compelling subject.

Cassini should focus more on Saturn and its rings because its investigation can open gates to the answers of many inexplicable mysteries.

Firstly, the observation of a rare occasion of occultation of a star such as Spica can tell us a lot about the composition and origin of the rings. Applying spectroscopy and photometry on the tight blocked by the rings can explain the composition of the rings (including the moonlets and the ringlets), their thickness and changes. By comparing these recent results with the older ones we will be able to sort out the changes in the rings' physical features. We may also discover the presence of a new ring, its formation and can compare the data obtained from it with the others.

Another mystery about Saturn is the formation of 'spokes' in its B-ring. The visibility of these odd spokes is repeatedly turned on and off. The formation of these spokes is also an intriguing puzzle .By observing the formation of these spokes we can determine their origin. We can understand their origin using the angle of the Sun with respect to the plane of the rings and electrostatic charging of the dust particles. We know the magnetosphere of Saturn is affecting its ionosphere by discharging radically .The rings containing dust particles can be easily ionized and have the ability to attain the discharges from the magnetosphere. Maybe they become electro statically charged and rise above resulting in the visibility of spokes. Using recent photography and its differences from the previous ones we can detect the formation of new spokes, their changes and their relationship with the magnetosphere of Saturn. This study might explain why such phenomena are not occurring on the rings of other planets such as Uranus. It may even broaden our concept and understanding of Electrostatics.

Another interesting aspect of Saturn is its similarity in composition to the solar nebula that formed the solar system. Saturn is composed of 7500 hydrogen and 2500 helium with traces of water, methane, ammonia and rock similar to that of the primordial solar nebula. If we find the origin of Saturn and its rings, we can find out much more about the origin of the solar system.

Among other mysteries, another mystery is that why the rings of Saturn always tilt at the same angle as that of equator.
The Cassini spacecraft can find answers to such questions and help us understand one of the most mysterious and puzzling object in our solar system."