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International Edition Winners 2010: Romania, Target 3 -- Grade 10-12

International Edition Winners 2010: Romania, Target 3 -- Grade 10-12

Alexandru Milu, Alexandru Tanase, Iulian Ionascu, Liviu Copoiu
Alexandru Milu
Alexandru Tanase
Iulian Ionascu
Liviu Copoiu

Teacher Advisor: Ioana Stoica
Tudor Vianu National High School of Computer Science


"From our point of view, the Cassini mission should focus on Saturn's evolution for a day. The main reason is that the rotation time of the planet around its axis is not well determined – the measurements vary. Regarding the rocky planets, we can choose certain features in order to measure the rotation time (like the continents for the Earth), while for the gaseous planets this method cannot be applied.

Actually, the rotation of Saturn is a more complex phenomenon because different parts of the planet rotate at different speeds. Recently, scientists have discovered three systems of estimating the time of a complete rotation of Saturn.

The first one regards the equatorial regions of the planet, measuring a time of 10 hours and 14 minutes.

The second system is concentrated on some places neighboring the equator (above and below it) and quantifies the rotation time at 10 hours and 39 minutes.

The last one was used by the Voyager and the Cassini missions and it is based on the rotation of the planet's magnetic field. Paradoxically, the two satellites have sent two different sets of data. In the 1980s, Voyager obtained 10 hours and 39 minutes, while in 2004 the time measured by Cassini was that of 10 hours and 45 minutes.

Consequently, it seems that the period of Saturn's rotation around its axis varies with the place and with the way of determining it. In our opinion, the main objective of the mission should be that of determining exactly the time. Knowing the length of a day or determining the speed of planet's rotation is very important in order to establish its internal structure and to understand weather phenomena on Saturn.

The transmitted images could also capture key moments on Saturn, such as storms that could have the diameter equal to that of the Earth's and reach the speed of 1600km/h, or other natural heat phenomena. The magnetic field is generated by the electric currents inside Saturn. Measuring the induction of the magnetic field we can determine the length of a day. We believe that the mysterious light from the North Pole that has amazed scientists (and us all also!) is a consequence of the magnetic field. Another bizarre fact that we wish the mission to investigate is the presence of a rotating hexagon, surrounded by cyclonic vortexes.

As a conclusion, we hope the time-lapse video made by photographing the planet over a 12 hour period will be successful and that it will provide a new perspective on Saturn's rotation. We are fully confident about the success of this project launched by NASA and have high hopes that these mysteries will be clarified! Taking into account the progresses made for elucidating the secrets of Saturn and its rings, we can surely hope for the elucidation of the Universe mysteries."