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International Edition Winners 2012: Pakistan, Grade 9-10, Target 3

International Edition Winners 2012: Pakistan, Grade 9-10, Target 3

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Target 3, Saturn
Ameer Hasan Khan

Chiniot Islamia School & College
10th Grade

"The images and data received from Cassini probe is pushing human beings' knowledge and understanding about the second largest and the least dense planet of the Solar System, Saturn, to new horizons, horizons which Galileo could only had dreamed of. Of the three given targets, I recommend the third one. It gives us a good view of Saturn and its rings.

Target numbers 3 has a lot of potency to answer many questions produced in the minds of either a young school going astronomer or a fully qualified NASA scientist simultaneously. It can give us a great deal of knowledge about two different aspects of Saturn: number one its rings and number two its atmosphere. It also has a star in its background. Thus there is a great opportunity of unfolding the mystery of its rings. The occultation of the star by Saturn and its rings will be extremely helpful in determining the main differences between the rings. It will tell us that is the composition of the rings is the root cause of the gaps and division or only the "Shepherd Moons" are responsible for it? Are there any more gaps and divisions not yet discovered or simply another satellite not seen by the people on the earth? Also, as the star will rise and set for Cassini, a phenomenon similar to the sun sets and rise on the Earth will be produced, though very minutely. It will provide the scientists a chance, who already have an in depth knowledge of the rises and sets on Earth, to glean information about Saturn s rings. I hope a lot of things will be uncovered.

Since the image covers a large expanse of Saturn's atmosphere, so a lot can be learnt about it. A lot of questions like, does it only contain hydrogen and helium or some other substances are present there too? Do the gas clouds descend as they get denser or the rapid spin of Saturn hurl them outwards? Are there any traces of the materials composing Saturn's rings present in its atmosphere? These questions will help us understand more about the origin of the rings.
On the whole, the following most important things can be learned by the scientists:

• The structure of Saturn's atmosphere.
• The way Saturn' atmosphere effects its rings
• Origin of the rings: are they a cause of Saturn's rapid spinning or merely space debris trapped by its gravity?
• Main reasons behind the gaps and divisions of Saturn's rings.

The Cassini probe is a real success. I hope more of such probes like Cassini are sent to destinations beyond Saturn!"