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International Edition Winners 2012: Pakistan, Grade 9-10, Target 1

International Edition Winners 2012: Pakistan, Grade 9-10, Target 1

Amna Irfan Siddiqui
Target 1, Pan
Amnah Irfan Siddiqui

Bahria College Karsaz
10th Grade

"Among the most pulchritudinous things Universe has for us, the moons of the planet Saturn are perhaps the most peculiar celestial bodies which happen to exist in this universe. The moon Pan is one of them. Each of the Saturn's moons tells another piece of story surrounding the Saturn system, so does the moon Pan. Pan, orbiting round planet Saturn, creates an Encke gap in between the ring-A. This, I feel, would be the best target for Cassini to focus on. To justify my consideration, I slant towards highlighting the reasons.

On each flyby, we come to know numerous things about Saturn which help researchers reveal the obscured mysteries. So this time, it surely would too. Pan is a strange satellite of Saturn. Earlier, scientists had a view that this moon has a low density which suggested them to conclude that this moon had grown out of its ring itself. However, it would have needed a jump-start as it's gravitationally impossible for small particles to fuse together within the rings. Therefore, the moon would have started with a massive core that was a leftover from the original collision that caused the rings. What made the tiny particles fuse together resulting into a moon? After the formation, how did the gap develop into a ring? This can only be answered accurately with evidences merely obtainable by Cassini.

Lately, it has been observed that while its revolution, Pan creates stripes called 'Wakes' in the ring material on either side of it. These particles move faster in their orbits. And get a gravitational kick as they pass by it, which is responsible for creating the wave in the gap and throughout the ring. These waves intersect downstream to create the wakes. at places where ring material has bunched up in an orderly manner. So, what would it be like when Cassini would picture these waves? It would provide valuable information regarding how forcefully it pushes the particles. Pan's bizarre flying-saucer shape has prompted scientists to declare that Pan is probably the weirdest and youngest in our solar system. Thus, after probing its surface, both internally and externally, it could provide clues about how it was formed, since it's too young, it would possibly be containing the traces of its formation. With the help of this information we can succeed in knowing how our earth and other celestial bodies came into being. I have a whopping list of questions which I really want to be answered by Cassini.

How did this moon get its flying-saucer shape? It's said that the moon Pan acts as a shepherd keeping the gap free of ring particles. Are its wakes and shepherd action related? Are they the same? How the surface of this bizarrely shaped moon like? Is it cratered like our moon? How exactly different is it from Earth's moon? Can we see its Silhouette on the planet's body? These are the reasons, why I feel, Cassini should become a sleuth of the target 1."