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2013 Edition -- Target 2: Dione, Grade 7 and 8 Winner

2013 Edition -- Target 2, Grade 7 and 8 Winner

Ben Phillips
Target 2, Dione
Ben Phillips

Windy Ridge School
8th Grade
Orlando, Florida

Teacher: Michael Cohen

"If Cassini could only target one of the three objectives, I believe that Dione would be the thriftiest choice. To my research, Dione withholds some of the most interesting mysteries, including a possible subsurface ocean that could support life, a previously active tectonic system, cryovolcanism and more.

If Cassini could only collect data from one target, one of the reasons Dione should be chosen is to collect information about the ice cliffs, and surface fractures littered throughout Dione. The main reason for observing these landforms is to look for possible evidence that Dione had active tectonic interactions underneath its surface. In addition, the 800 kilometer mountain range, Janiculum Dorsa, could be the result of a previously active tectonic system. This research could possibly show what will happen in the future when moons similar to Dione like Europa and Enceladus cool down with no heat being pumped out from their core.

Cassini should also choose Dione as the target because of a possible subsurface ocean, and evidence for either an active or inactive cryovolcanic system. New evidence about a possible subsurface ocean and a cryovolcanic system could lead to new theories about how a natural satellite can sustain heat to nurture a subsurface ocean and/or a cryovolcanic system. If Cassini can use it's thermal imaging cameras to locate points of Dione that is currently releasing heat, then NASA could map out where the best possible location(s) are to look for that ocean or signs of a cryovolcanic system. Additionally, Cassini should take close up pictures of Dione's surface and compare them to the thermal images and see if there is any correlation from heat being given off to land formations.

As I have seen from pictures, Dione's craters have a mysterious characteristic. Instead the classic bowl shaped crater like those found on the moon, Dione has multiple craters that have an impressive hill in the center. Some of Dione's impact craters have their hill in the center almost as tall as the crater is deep! Meteor Crater in Arizona is an example of an impact crater that has a small hill in the center, unlike ones on Dione. Maybe the high hills are a result of an elastic surface, or a surface that acts like the surface of water. These high hills also might be caused by the gravitational pull of Dione. If cassini could work it's instruments to find out why, that would be a very interesting scientific discovery.

Therefore, if Cassini could only travel to one target, Dione should that target. Because Dione could possibly show the world interesting information about ice cliffs, subsurface oceans, cryovolcanism, and maybe a sneak peek of what moons with currently active cryovolcanic features, like ice geysers found on Enceladus, will look like in their cold, fatal futures, Dione is the obvious choice. With these points that I have listed, I truly believe that Dione would be the most beneficial target."