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International Edition Winners 2011: Romania, Target 1, Grade 5-6

International Edition Winners 2011: Romania, Target 1, Grade 5-6


Ioana Todea
Hyperion
Hyperion
Ioana Todea

6th Grade
School no.195
Bucharest, Romania

Teacher: Florentina Iofciu



"Hyperion is one of the most interesting celestial bodies from our solar system. It was discovered by William Bond, George Bond and William Lessell, in 1848. The satellite was named after Hyperion, the Titan god of watchfulness, the elder brother of Chronos, from the Greek mythology. It is the 16th largest satellite of Saturn, it is situated unusually close to Titan and it has an ovoid (or elliptic) orbit, parallel to Saturn's equator, but located at a distance of 1.48 million km from it. A complete revolution of Hyperion lasts 21 days.

One of the things concerning Hyperion that should be discovered is the object's internal composition of which, too little is known at the present. However its low density indicates that it could be made of ice and a small amount of rocks. So, Hyperion is a solid body. We could find a way to plant on the satellite a research station, in order to study other astronomical objects situated in the proximity, especially Titan (which scientists consider to be a suitable place for life occurrence), knowing that the turbulent atmosphere of the mentioned body wouldn't permit such an easy approach.

A percent of 40 from Hyperion's volume is empty space and that means there are parts of it which don't contain solid matter. The satellite has a sponge aspect due to its many impact craters which mark its surface. Such a crater, one of unusual dimensions, it's visible on Hyperion : it has a diameter of 120 km and a depth of 10 km, where the maximum diameter of Hyperion itself is of 410 km and the minimum one of 220 km. It has been found out that a layer of dark matter covers the surface of the satellite and it would be interesting to also find out this matter's composition and where did it come from.

Hyperion's shape is irregular. This is one of the biggest satellites which share this feature, being surpassed only by Neptune's satellite, Proteus. It is possible that Hyperion was spherical in shape and it followed a deformation as a result of a collision with another object. Hyperion could be also just a piece from a fragmented celestial body.

Hyperion has no atmosphere, so the process of erosion can't take place on it. The same feature can be found at our own natural satellite, the Moon. We know that any trace left on Moon's surface remains intact, so why not presume that the same rule applies to Hyperion too. If we studied the surface craters much closer we could discover information about the structure of the body which interacted with the satellite.

The photos taken by spacecrafts indicate the chaotic rotation of Hyperion, that means that it constantly changes the rotation axis position. The proximity to Titan, its irregular shape and the lacunas interior of the satellite may contribute to this phenomenon. But it's hard to believe that Hyperion is the only body whose movement doesn't imply laws or rules. A thorough study could certainly help to solve this problem.

By choosing Hyperion as Cassini's target, we can find out new things about the rules governing our solar system."