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International Edition Winners 2011: Turkey, Target 3, Grade 11th

International Edition Winners 2011: Turkey, Target 3, Grade 11th


Esin Meric Kutlay
Saturn
Saturn
Esin Meric Kutlay

11th Grade
Koc Lisesi, The Koc School
Istanbul




"From the day our ancestors first wondered about space to our day where we observe space through high-tech satellites and probes, curiosity led to brilliant discoveries and drastic developments. Cassini is doubtlessly one of these probes and its researches will keep helping mankind in this quest of understanding. In order to pioneer the most fruitful discoveries researching Saturn will be the most beneficial alternative from the three given targets, as this celestial body houses numerous phenomena whose cause we have yet to understand.

Even Saturn's most prominent characteristic, its rings, blaze numerous questions. It is not known to us when or how these rings were formed, but a multiple theories are being speculated. In 1849, the French scientist M.E. Roche suggested that the rings might be the remnants of a moon which got ripped apart by Saturn itself. This also explains the fact that Saturn, the second largest planet of our solar system has only one large moon, Titan; whereas its larger celestial neighbor Jupiter possesses mega satellites, but no rings.

Some parts of the rings are rich in ice and others in carbon. Does this evidence suggest that these rings are formed from the breakdowns of different bodies like asteroids and meteorites? Although there are numerous theories, we still have little data to lead us to the truth.

Another puzzling incident is the fact that Saturn radiates more heat than it gains from the Sun. Cassini has already observed a Kelvin-Helmholtz (K-H) instability on the planet's atmosphere, yet the planet gives out far more heat than K-H principle may explain. Is it possible that a more complex chemical reaction is undergoing in this planet's core? Is it a result of the unusual meteorological conditions in Gas Giants? Or, is it due to the helium condensing in Saturn's atmosphere? When helium 'rains' towards Saturn's core, just like water condenses in our Earth, could it be that these particles release a gravitational energy and heat the planet's core? The data that Cassini might collect from this planet could help us understand the mystery behind this happening.

Meteorological activities going on in Saturn are also very interesting. Discovered by Voyager and recently imaged by Cassini spacecraft is the gigantic hexagon-shaped storm located at Saturn's northern pole. No such shape for clouds has ever been spotted on a planet's surface. Despite the fact that it was discovered for about 30 years ago, we still know very little about it. The fierce lightning storms, the Great White Spot discovered in 1991, the gigantic vortex raging on the planet's southern pole and the double hexagon render this planet a very challenging yet striking environment to search about.

What Cassini probe gives us is a golden chance of discovering, questioning and getting to learn more about Saturn. We should not overlook all the marvels, peculiarities and attributes Saturn possesses, and take heed to the story it might tell to mankind, which will help us understand the way our universe works."