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International Edition Winners 2011: Pakistan, Target 2, 9-10

International Edition Winners 2011: Pakistan, Target 2, 9-10


Ahmed Ali Tariq
Rhea and Titan
Rhea and Titan
Ahmed Ali Tariq

10th Grade
Beacon House School
Lahore, Pakistan




" While spending having amount on scientific research, it is clear that it should be spent on the target which will yield the most information. I think that target 2, Rhea and Titan, will render the most knowledge. It may seem a waste of time to ignore. Saturn itself and focus on its moons, but it is possible that we may gain more form them, Rhea and Titan have many mysteries hidden behind them, which makes it important for us to send Cassini spacecraft and solve these.

Titan, Saturn's largest moon, discovered in 1665 by Christian Huygens is said to be the most earth-like world found until now. Titan is of great interest to scientists because it is the only moon in the solar system known to have clouds and a mysterious, thick planet-like atmosphere. Due to the similar climate, it creates similar features like sand dunes, cavers lakes and seas and like on earth is denominated by seasonal weather patterns, the orange haze shrouded around the moon blocks the view of its surface, but with the help of new technology, Cassini spacecraft is now able to reveal the wonders beneath it. Cassini has revealed that Titan's surface is shaped by rivers of liquid ethane and methane which forms clouds and occasionally rains from the sky as water does on earth. Volcanism may occur as well but with liquid water as lava. The moon itself is primarily composed of water ice and rocky material. The presence of water hydrocarbon and atmosphere means it is possible that microbial life already exists in water under the surface.

Rhea, the second largest moon of Saturn, was discovered in 1672 by Giovanni Domenico Cassini. Rhea is an icy body with a density of about 1.236g/cm3 which indicates that it is made of about 25% rock and 75% water ice. Rhea has two sides, a dark side and a light side. On the light side, there are craters and on the dark side, there are wispy fissures. Some scientists believe that these fractures are made by the expansions and the contractions of the core due to extreme changes in internal temperature. Others believe that these wispy streaks are caused by tectonic faults. This could mean that Rhea's surface may have tectonic plates like on earth, which will help us learn about our own planet as well. One of the greater mysteries of Rhea is whether it has rings or not. If rings are detected, then it would be the first moon to possess rings. Scientists still are not confirmed about this, so Cassini should be sent to solve this mystery.

Target 2, Rhea and Titan is the most valuable among the three as it would solve many mysteries and will take us one step closer to understand the solar system and our place in it. Therefore, I would definitely choose this target to be explored by the Cassini Spacecraft."