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International Edition Winners 2010: Romania, Target 1 -- Grade 7th-9th

International Edition Winners 2010: Romania, Target 1 -- Grade 7th-9th

Aura Ganciu
Aura Ganciu

Teacher Advisor: Cristina Anton
Mihai Eminescu National High School


"Some time ago there were no city lights to hide the stars. Everyone could see and admire them. Some curios nerds even studied them. It took them some time to realize that the sky is not a black huge sphere, with hundreds of thousands of "holes" through which the eternal fire penetrates.

I travel back in time 400 years (imagination is the greatest, fastest and cheapest "time machine") and I'm amused seeing Galileo, scratching his beard and looking puzzled, through the telescope lens, at a planet like a cup of coffee.

I "jump" a little bit forward in time and I see Huygens looking through his telescope. Aha! It's not a cup of coffee! Those are rings around the planet! We are cleared!

And here is Mr. Cassini! So Saturn has other satellites, not just Titan! "Sidera Lodoicea" ... what a pompous name for "the stars of Louis" ... Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys and Dione. I wonder what is he looking at? Hmm...Rhea.

In a blink of an eye I reach Saturn's orbit. (By the way, the speed of thought is much...much greater than the speed of light).
Rhea is nice, seen close beneath Saturn's rings! A ball of ice with a core of rock, revolving around the huge Saturn. It's a moon half the size of our Moon. During the day, the Sun "heats" the wrinkled and pitted surface of Rhea up to... -174oC. The nights on Rhea are a little bit cold... -220oC. Like I said: a ball of ice! Well, it's normal to be so, considering the fact that we are at more than 1.5 billion kilometers distance from the Sun!

A "tour" with Rhea around Saturn takes about four days and a half. Quite fast if we think that Saturn is so big that the Earth could fit in it nearly 750 times! A trip of 570.000 km in 108 hours means a speed of about 5000 km/h. (Our Moon is "slower", it has "only" 3700 km/h, but its orbit around the Earth is four times longer than Rhea's).

Rhea is the ideal place for curious nerds to study craters. Its surface is full of "scars" of ancient space "accidents". I believe that many pebbles and stones and rocks that floated in Saturn's rings fell on Rhea.
Maybe, in the thousands of craters we could find some interesting stuff. It's impossible not to find "pieces" of our galaxy, not only rocks from the saturnian rings. (Oh! One was larger than the others. Much larger, since it formed a 5 km deep and 360 km large crater – the Tirawa basin). Who knows, maybe, deep into the ice, we could find some bacteria ... life ... sort of. Just like we found on Mars.

So I think it would be interesting if NASA's Cassini spacecraft focused on Rhea. At least, an up close view will solve the scientists mystery of Rhea's "family business" – the rings. Has it or not thin rings of dust?"