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2014 Essay Contest: Winner, Target 1, Grade 5 - 6

Spring 2014 Essay Contest: Winner, Target 1, Grade 5-6

Juliana Yu
Saturn's F ring
Saturn's F ring
Juliana Yu

The Dalton School
5th Grade
New York, New York

Teacher: Glenn Simonelli

"Saturn’s rings seem to swirl, twisting and turning in space. Streams of ice, dust, and debris form bands of moving rocks to create a halo-like arrangement around the planet. Its rings are Saturn’s best known feature, and its strangest, too.

Close to the outside, a thin band stretches around the planet, constantly moving and changing. This is the F ring. Nicknamed “Saturn’s Weirdest Ring,” the F ring is responsible for many of Saturn’s mysteries. One of these mysteries are the ‘mini-jets.’ Mini-jets were only recently discovered by Cassini scientists. They are objects that are pulled out of Saturn’s F ring. These objects are usually about kilometer-sized, and seem to be pushed by Prometheus, one of Saturn’s two moons whose gravity keeps the F ring in line.

Scientists once thought Saturn’s rings to be a single structure, but after researchers closely viewed images of the planet, they were proven wrong. These pictures revealed that they are actually many separate rings made of many separate particles. This is one of many discoveries Cassini has studied, and can continue to study about the rings.

The public and scientists alike are fascinated by Saturn’s rings because they are such a mystery. In fact, after Cassini’s ten years at Saturn, we do not even know when they were formed. We naturally want to know about our universe, and Saturn’s rings are one of the most puzzling secrets in the Milky Way. I believe that the F ring holds the key to many of these riddles.

Directing Cassini to explore the F ring would be more beneficial to science than almost anything we could imagine. We call the F ring strange, but ‘strange’ really means we do not know anything about it. And finding out what we do not know is what science truly stands for."