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International Edition Winners - 2013: Turkey, Target 1, Grade 10

International Edition Winners - 2013: Turkey, Target 1, Grade 10

Baran Cimen
Target 1, Iapetus
Baran Çimen

Grade: 10

Eyüboğlu High School

Teachers: Müge Özgönül, Burcu Parmak

City: Istanbul

"Iapetus has the most mysterious facts to be explained among all three targets, hence the next encounter should be specified for the observation of Iapetus more particularly. There are two essential reasons for my choice: The color contrast on the surface of the moon, which is thought to be caused by a thermal difference, creating the possibility of sufficient temperatures for life to begin; and the extraordinary equatorial ridge that can only be found on the surface of Iapetus, within our solar system.

To begin with, the color contrast on Iapetus is considered to be a consequence of a thermal segregation, triggered by an influx of dark material from an external source and became more pronounced due to the slow rotation around Saturn. It is deemed that dark material absorbed more heat than the bright hemisphere and sublimed out, making the dark side to be darker and the bright side to be brighter. Because the moon is assumed to contain three quarters water ice and one quarter rock, it is possible that the darker hemisphere involves liquid water and has convenient temperatures for abiogenesis. I think the probability of life existence on Iapetus should be investigated, therefore Cassini should be pointed to Iapetus for the next flyby.

Secondly, the mountains surrounding the equator of Iapetus is still puzzling the scientists. This interesting landform is the unique example of itself in the solar system. There are two theories explaining the formation of this mountain chain, one group of scientists think it was formed at a time when Iapetus was rotating a lot faster, whereas one group believes that it was created by the collapse of a ring. Pointing Cassini to Iapetus will provide clarification to this obscurity, thus I think Target-1 is the best option available.

To conclude, detailed images of Iapetus will yield valuable scientific results for us both to comprehend the actual reason of the color contrast and the equatorial topography of Iapetus. Furthermore, it can be investigated if there are any suitable conditions for life to develop in the dark hemisphere. Accordingly, Cassini should be oriented towards Target-1 for the following encounter, in order to answer our questions."