Follow this link to skip to the main content

International Edition Winners 2012: Pakistan, Grade 7-8, Target 2

International Edition Winners 2012: Pakistan, Grade 7-8, Target 2

Sabahat Tahir
Saturn's F ring
Target 2, Saturn's F ring
Sabahat Tahir

Army Public Schools and College Systems, Rawalkot Campus
8th Grade

"Saturn is the second largest planet of the universe and is more massive than any other planet except Jupiter. The rings of Saturn were first discoveries by Galileo in 1610, name in the alphabetical order as A, B, C, D and F.

I selected Target 2: F ring as the most suitable and best one to learn about the science of Saturn. F ring, the outer most ring of the Saturn is very think and faint ring discovered in 1979 by NASA's pioneer II spacecraft. The moons of the Saturn namely Prometheus and Pandora create large snowballs as they plow though the F ring and these snowballs puncture the ring as they tumble around Saturn. F ring provides us much information about Saturn because these snowballs are cutting in and out of the F ring's orbit making it one of the dynamic places in the Saturn system. Every observation of the F ring tells us something new about the planet Saturn. Mysterious spokes have also been seen in the ring which might form and disperse over a few hours. These spokes are composed of electrically charged sheet of dust, sized particles created by small meteors.

F ring is also composed of several narrow rings, bends and tints with bright clumps in them which serves as another important aspect of Saturn to be studied and explored. F ring is the most active ring in solar system which features changing on a timescale of hours. F ring also consists of one core ring and a spiral strand around it. When "Prometheus" encounters the at its apoapsis, its gravitational attraction creates tints and knots in the F ring as the moon steals material from it, leaving a dark channel in the inner part of the ring. Exploration of the F ring of the Saturn provides information about the atmosphere of the planet, as well.

The atmosphere of the ring is composed of molecular oxygen gas provided when ultraviolet light from the sun interacts with water ice in the ring. According to the models of this atmosphere, hydrogen is also present. The ring also possess a similarly sparse hydroxide atmosphere. Like the oxygen this atmosphere is produced by the disintegration of water molecules ejected by the Saturn moons.

Another interesting aspect of the F ring is that it is further composed of the three narrow rings that appeared to be braided in a complex structure. It is now known that the outer two rings consists of knobs, tints and clumps that give the illusion of braiding, with the less bright third ring lying inside them.

The F ring also possess two shepherd moons, the Prometheus and Pandora on either side. Prometheus is followed by dark channels that it has carved into the inner strands of the ring. Small unseen moons orbiting within the F ring are continuously passing through its narrow core because of perturbations from the Prometheus.

So, all these aspects of the F ring, its shepherd moons, the snow-balls, its narrow rings, its atmosphere and its whole structure makes it best option to learn and explore the science of Saturn."