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International Edition Winners 2009: India (Grade 11-12: Target 2)

International Edition Winners 2009: India (Grade 11-12: Target 2)

Syed Yasin Shahtaz Emanee
Saturn and Rings
Syed Yasin Shahtaz Emanee

12th Grade

Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalaya, Golaghat, Assam.

" In my opinion, Cassini's next target should be Tethys and Rings.

The likelihood of Tethys adding to the Ring System makes it especially valuable since this forms an interesting system of a satellite interacting with what are perhaps debris of an earlier satellite(s). The latter, being a macrosystem of microparticles (relatively speaking), should reveal information about itself when we study how it behaves near a comparatively large body, Tethys, and both of them revolving around a mother body, Saturn. This system also serves as an "experimental setup" for an arrangement that will be very difficult to construct in a lab.
More importantly, study of this system can provide insights into similar situations far away, like maybe huge galaxies interacting with a small or newly formed black hole, and other 'specific large body' and 'diffused system of small bodies' scenarios in the cosmos. We can thus employ results generated here for better approximations of gravitational phenomena observed elsewhere in a larger (or smaller) scale.

Also, this picture will enable us to study the kinks and waves formed in the rings. On future missions, where we may want to navigate through the ring system, these
details resolving the complicated individual movements of the ring components will be
extremely useful. These inner motions of the ring components might also reveal, through
Cassini's various instruments, details about their physical properties like density etc, which will again give a better picture of the origin of particles in the ring.

Tethys provides some very interesting examples of natural terraforming, in its Ithaca Chasma and the Odysseus Crater. These sites provide a scope to study the formation of a young satellite body subjected to special (maybe not random) forces in its continued formation, and this is not easily seen in many places. As a link, this also might help with the still under-research procedure of earth's own terraforming. In fact, the rich diversity of cratering in Tethys could provide valuable information about the history of the "activity" near the fringes of the Ring System, which can be used to perfect theories about the formation and nature of the rings. Perhaps this can be applied later to other satellite bodies as well. The additional fact that Tethys has the same revolution and rotation time, and thus could have a 'near' and 'far' side like earth's moon should also help with the aforementioned study since we can now hope to analyze the difference in cratering between these two sides and learn some aspects of the local cosmic bombardment, which could be useful, among other things, in future missions (maybe carrying some very delicate cargo?).

Thus, Tethys and Rings should definitely be the next target for Cassini's eyes, and the data it gives us will surely be rewarding in terms of both practical utility and advanced theoretical studies of cosmic systems, something which definitely shouldn't be allowed to sleep with its secrets for a very long time! "