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2011 Edition -- Target 1: Hyperion, Grade 5 and 6 Winner

2011 Edition -- Target 1: Hyperion, Grade 5 and 6 Winner


William Lawrence
Hyperion
Hyperion
William Lawrence

6th Grade
William H. Crocker Middle School
Hillsborough, Calif.

Teacher: Dr. Elizabeth Statmore


"Hyperion, the universe's most interesting moon, is exactly the place the Cassini spacecraft should visit. This mysterious space rock is not only beautiful, but is also very intriguing. For example, the form of Hyperion is very strange. In fact it is the largest irregularly shaped satellite ever observed! The eccentric orbit of Hyperion causes gravitational forces from Saturn to send it tumbling out of control; this could possibly be the reason for its odd shape. Additionally, this strange rotational period isn't even constant.

Even the color of Hyperion is special in its own way. When looking at a plain picture one sees that Hyperion is just gray all over. But, actually, when viewed in natural color, Hyperion has a reddish tint, redder than Phoebe. Now what does one usually notice about Hyperion immediately when they look at it? The craters. These craters are truly filled with a strange dark material. Scientists though, when looking closer at the material, suspect that this material might only be tens of meters thick with a brighter material beneath.

Speaking of craters and appearance, have you ever noticed that you really cannot see the end of these holes in the surface? This is because Hyperion is a loosely packed ball of ice. The deepest crater on Hyperion is approximately 75 miles in diameter and 6.2 miles deep. Now around the craters one might notice that there seems to be a smooth surface. If Cassini visits Hyperion scientists could find out if this surface is because of landslides. The results of the pictures, if Cassini goes to Hyperion, could be one of the puzzle pieces to why this moon is shaped like no other Saturn moon. Hyperion's meteor bombardment makes this moon appear as one of Saturn's oldest surfaces. Also, if Cassini visits this rock, it could determine whether there are differences in the composition of the material on Hyperion.

Clearly this mysterious moon is the right pinpoint for the Cassini spacecraft. Its texture, its rotation, and its look up close, all of Hyperion's features are just a little different than that of other ordinary satellites. If Cassini wants an out of the ordinary, fascinating, strange, and beautiful picture then Hyperion is the place to be."