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2014 Essay Contest: Winner, Target 3, Grade 5 - 6

2014 Essay Contest: Winner, Target 3, Grade 5 - 6

Neha Aryasomayajula
Target 3, Saturn
Neha Aryasomayajula

Conant Elementary School
5th Grade
Acton, Massachusetts

Teacher: Subrahmanyam Aryasomayajula

"The six sided jet stream which is present in the Saturn’s North Polar vortex at 78 degrees north latitude is known as Saturn’s Hexagonal shaped Hurricane. The Hexagon is 20,000 miles wide with 200 miles per hour winds and has a rotating storm at the center of it and it carries haze particles. The hexagon is just a current of air and scientists suspect it could have been there for decades or even centuries. Unlike on Earth where there are landforms like mountains which obstruct and therefore could disrupt the stability of the storm, there are no landforms on Saturn which is believed to be just a gaseous planet.

No other part of our Solar system has a weather pattern like this.

On our planet Earth the hurricanes are formed due to presence of oceans which supply water vapor. Saturn’s hurricane is composed mostly of hydrogen and very small amounts of water vapor. There is no underlying ocean in the Saturn to supply water vapor, so what is the physics which can create and sustain this kind of a hurricane. Most Astronomers believe it is caused by a standing wave pattern in the Saturn’s atmosphere. How are the standing waves in the atmosphere created? In the laboratories the polygonal shaped storms are created by the differential rotation of the fluids. So what are the different fluids in the Saturn’s atmosphere which could have caused this? I would like Cassini to probe and collect more data about the structure and composition of Saturn’s hurricane. Also so far it has been winter on Saturn while Cassini was probing the hurricane and only recently it is spring and by 2017 it would be summer at Saturn’s north pole. This would shed more sunlight on north pole which would allow us to look more deeply under the Hurricane.

It would be really wonderful to find out what is beneath the storm. What is it that has set off and feeding a storm of this size? That would certainly help us understand the formation of the hurricanes here on earth. Physical phenomenon on Saturn are so different from what we have here on our planet Earth. Collecting lots of data like structure, composition, wind speeds, size, depth, diameter of the eye of the storm, possible standing waves, different layers of gases with different rotational speeds etc. would help us map out and better understand the physics behind the dragon storm. This would also open up better understanding of the extraterrestrial phenomenon and help us open up our mind and intelligence to seeming unfathomable cosmic phenomenon.

As a budding young scientist I would like to constantly try to compare and contrast the storms on our planet Earth versus the dragon storm like the hexagonal hurricane on Saturn’s north polar vortex. This would help us always stretch our minds, intelligence and imagination. For all these reasons I like Cassini to gather more data about the hurricane for further analysis of scientists."