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International Edition Winners 2011: Turkey, Target 1, Grade 9th

International Edition Winners 2011: Turkey, Target 1, Grade 9th


Orhan Efe Yavuz
Hyperion
Hyperion
Orhan Efe Yavuz

9th Grade
Koc Lisesi, The Koc School
Istambul

Teacher: : Şefika Seçilir



"Hyperion, also known as "Saturn VII", is the 8th largest moon of Saturn. There are two main reasons why Hyperion should be chosen for the next flyby. First, Hyperion's irregular rotation is still a puzzlement for scientists and second it is one of the satellites in the Solar System that can be inhabited by organisms.

Firstly, Hyperion is the best choice, because it may have life. Scientists are seeking life not only in planets, but also in satellites. However, only in few satellites, organisms can form because of the low temperature, lack of life essentials and lack of water. Hyperion is one of these few satellites. Up to the Cassini's flyby to Hyperion in 2007, astronomers did not know what the dark materials inside the craters of Hyperion were. The flyby in 2007 yielded that craters in Hyperion were filled with hydrocarbons that were essential for life . Furthermore, the flyby in 2007 showed astronomers that Hyperion is composed of highly water and ice which are necessary for life to form. In addition, Hyperion's temperature is -150°C (about) . Normally, it is not appropriate for life to form. However, dark materials at the crater floors absorb more sunlight and heat. Therefore, this temperature can be high enough in crater's floors for some organisms to live. Also, even in Earth some special archaea can live under very low temperatures. As a result, temperature, life essential and water problem can be solved in Hyperion and so life may form in Hyperion's craters, but scientists can only learn this by choosing Hyperion for the next flyby.

Secondly, Titan's effect on Hyperion's rotation is still a mystery. All the natural satellites in the Solar System, except Hyperion, are tidally locked to their planets. This is the reason why we always see the same side of the Moon. Hyperion is the only satellite in the Solar System known to rotate chaotically. Its period of rotational varies from one orbit to the next. Hyperion has this chaotic orbit due to the gravitational attraction between Saturn and its largest satellite Titan. It is a fact that scientists still do not understand it completely and Scientist are still investigating if there are other moons in Solar System that rotate chaotically because of the same reason. Therefore, scientists try to understand it completely and apply this principle to other moons to progress their understanding of satellites' rotations. As a result, Hyperion is the best option for the next flyby to comprehend Titan's effect on Hyperion's rotation fully.

It is clear that Hyperion is an unknown moon from the rotation and inhabitance aspects. To make a flyby to Hyperion would change and evolve our comprehension for those aspects, so Hyperion should be chosen for the next flyby of Cassini.
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