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2013 Edition -- Target 3: Saturn, Grade 7 and 8 Winner

2013 Edition -- Target 3: Saturn, Grade 7 and 8 Winner

Hannah Rhee
Target 3, Saturn
Hannah Rhee

Jackson Middle School
8th Grade
Champlin, Minnesota

Teacher: Melissa Noble

"Have people ever wondered what Saturn is composed of or what the planet's rings are made out of? Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and like the other outer planets, it is a gas giant. The planet's rings are probably the most recognizable form in the Solar System, hiding many uncovered discoveries within itself. I believe the Cassini Spacecraft should target Saturn so we may investigate the mysteries of its composition and its great rings.

The composition of Saturn is a very intriguing part of the planet. Its atmosphere for example. It is primarily composed of hydrogen and helium but also contains elements that could create ammonia, phosphine, methane, and other compounds. Pale orange cloud bands also cover its atmosphere. They are colored orange because of the sulfur in the air. Another topic in Saturn's composition would be the many forms of weather around the planet, such as rain, snow, winds, and lightning storms. The planet's poles also possess a violent vortex where heat from inside powers giant thunderstorms. Around these poles, is a glow that is concentrated by Saturn's magnetic field. If Cassini targeted Saturn, we could explore the weather such as these thunderstorms and compare them to the weather on Earth. We could also investigate more on the atmosphere and see what it looks like up close. Furthermore, Cassini could also find out more about the planet's core. The center of Saturn is dense rock as well as ice water and the temperature of the interior is 18,000 - 27,000 degrees fahrenheit. Other compounds in the core are made solid from the strong pressure and heat. The next layer is metallic hydrogen that gradually converts into a gas. This makes up most of the planet along with helium. Cassini would be able to investigate all of these factors of Saturn's composition, which would surely help to discover new knowledge of the planet itself.

The rings of the planet are probably the most interesting trait of Saturn. There are billions of ring particles in the whole ring system and these particles are mostly made out of frozen water. Their sizes range from dust sized grains to as giant as mountains. Saturn's rings spread thousands of kilometers yet are only about 10 meters thick. There are even several other faint unnamed rings that surround the planet. Two of Saturn's moons orbit inside the rings, creating gaps in their paths. Cassini could possibly be able to take a closer look at these moons as well as the ring particles if it were to target Saturn.

With all these amazing parts of this beautiful gas giant, we can discover new factors of Saturn that will help us solve the many inconclusive mysteries of the planet. From its outstanding rings to its atmosphere, core, weather, and overall composition, we can benefit from the knowledge it gives us. That is why I believe that the Cassini Spacecraft should make its target the ringed planet, Saturn."