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International Edition Winners 2010: Romania, Target 2 -- Grade 7th-9th (1)

International Edition Winners 2010: Romania, Target 2 -- Grade 7th-9th (1)

Botez Ilinca-Cezara
Botez Ilinca-Cezara

Teacher Advisor: Anton Cristina
Mihai Eminescu National High School


"It was a wonderful summer night and I was watching the starry dark-velvet sky embroidered with million of diamonds. I was fascinated and at the same time curious to find out the secrets of the celestial bodies. I had learned a few things about the planets of the solar system, but I was fascinated by Saturn, the sixth planet from the Sun and the second biggest in size, situated at 1,429,400,000 km from the Sun and at 1,300,000,000 km from the Earth. I also knew that a full spin around its axis takes 29,4 years...

"I can see you are really interested and I can help you find out more", I heard as in a dream a voice that seemed to have guessed my thoughts. "I can even take you to the Cassini –Huygens spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004."

Astonished, I looked around to see who was speaking and, much to my surprise, I saw it was Newton, whose face was smiling at me from the cover of my Physics book.

"Saturn has been known since ancient times" – the story started, as we were passing by other planets. "The first to study it through a telescope was Galileo Galilei, who, in 1610, noticed two other bodies next to it, which seemed to be satellites, and in 1659, Christiaan Huygens saw a thin ring around the planet.

I was speechless, as we were already getting near it.

"Can you see it? Its volume is 755 times bigger than that of the Earth. It is flat at the poles, because of its high rotation speed," my 'guide' explained to me.

"What is it made of?" -- I asked curiously. "It is a gas giant, composed of Hydrogen and Helium and its core is made of stone and ice. It is covered with a thick layer of clouds which move at speeds of about 500m/s. And another interesting thing: Saturn is lighter than water! So, if it were thrown into a gigantic ocean, it would float!"

"Can you tell me something about its rings, too?"

"Of course; they are seven, named D, C, B, A F, G and E, in order of their distance to the planet. They are made of ice particles which vary from a few millimeters to a few meters and orbit around Saturn at a similar speed, thus giving the impression of a solid ring. There are gaps between them, called divisions, the most visible, the Cassini Division, being 4700 km thick.

"Does Saturn have satellites too?"

"Yes, there are 61 moons around Saturn, all of them being named after the Titans from Greek mythology, the biggest being called just like that: Titan. It has recently been discovered that another satellite, Enceladus, might hide a rich water source, which means that there could be life there."

"Thank you so much for this marvellous adventure", I managed to say, but the book had disappeared from my desk ... and Newton together with it ..."