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International Edition Winners - 2013: Romania, Target 2, Grade 7-8

International Edition Winners - 2013: Romania, Target 2, Grade 7-8

Target 2, Dione
Bogdan Marghescu
Bogdan Marghescu

Grade: 7-8

Teacher: Manuela Prajea

School: “Traian” National High School

City: Drobeta Turnu Severin

"Saturn, the sixth planet from the Sun, is fascinating, just like all the planets in the Universe, but, in addition it has the grandeur of its satellites. The diversity of Saturn’s satellites is amazing, as they have diverse particularities, which have been examined by the Cassini mission since the year 2004. Each of these satellites tells a different story of the Saturn planet, Dione being one of these satellites. The particles in Saturn’s rings hit this satellite continuously, so that its surface is full of craters. The pattern of these craters shows that the satellite has rotated to 180 degrees. The reason of this mysterious shift is one of the most interesting objectives which, in my opinion, should be studied by the Cassini mission.

Dione, Saturn’s twelfth satellite, is made up mainly of frozen water, being streaked by a labyrinth of cracks which proves a tectonically active past and is covered by rocks of shining ice. These volcanic formations erupt ammonia or methane, unlike the volcanoes on the Earth, which erupt melted rock. So, Dione, which is considered a huge “ice ball”, is much more dynamic than the specialists used to think.

Furthermore, the images taken by the Cassini spacecraft illustrate the existence of a viscous, almost muddy liquid, found below the ice crust, which I would study more thoroughly if I were a scientist for a day. This would be possible if, on a future mission, we would send a spaceship to analyze this liquid in order to look for the cornerstone of life, beyond the Earth. In my opinion, this liquid was originally a form of water covered by an ice particle which thickened in time, turning into shining ice rocks.

Scientists have been wondering why half of Dione has more craters than its other half and why the satellite has got stuck on the orbit. I believe that, first of all, we should try to understand why Dione satellite always shows the same face to Saturn. This gravity lock leads to the fact that one of Dione’s sides is hit by the particles in Saturn’s rings more than the other side. Dione should have had a greater number of craters on the side facing the orbit, but, strangely, Dione’s front hemisphere is less impacted than its back hemisphere, a fact which raised my curiosity. If I were a scientist of the Cassini mission, I would like to examine this more closely. One possible explanation is that some impacts were so strong that they made Dione rotate a little, until it became gravitationally locked again. The current condition of Dione’s surface shows that it hasn’t changed its position on the orbit for several billion years.

In conclusion, all these questions are wonderful reasons for which Cassini spacecraft should choose target 2. With the help of this study, we would obtain more information regarding the formation of the stars and planets of our solar system."

  • Blend space exploration with reading and writing -- Reading, Writing & Rings!
  • Cassini Scientist for a Day -- Students get involved
  • Cassini Raw Images