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2001 Edition -- Target 2: Rhea and Titan, Grade 5 and 6 Winner

2001 Edition -- Target 2: Rhea and Titan, Grade 5 and 6 Winner


Michelle Kwon
Rhea and Titan
Rhea and Titan
Michelle Kwon

5th Grade
Arbor View School
Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Teacher: Mary Lou Andacht


"You are in a rocket ready for launch. 10,9,8,... blast off! As you venture into space, you navigate your rocket towards Saturn and its moons, focusing on target 2: Rhea and Titan, and ready to answer unsolved mysteries about these two moons.

There are three main points that I want to explore regarding Rhea. First of all, why is Rhea unusually light for its size? With the current knowledge, scientists have guessed that the heaviest part is its core, which is a rocky substance, and the lightest part, is its surface, which is ice and water. Cassini photographs may give me a clue about this unusual mystery regarding Rheas size.

Another riddle is whether Rhea has rings or not. If Rhea appears to actually have rings, I question how this light little moon could have gotten its rings. Scientists told us that Rhea has a hard core made of rocky substance, so I could guess that the existing pieces of substance surrounding Rhea are being pulled equally by gravity and levity and could be formed to make rings. Will Cassini solve this piece of the puzzle for me?

The final mystery I have about Rhea is its surface. The trailing side of Rhea has wispy, fluffy, white streaks, while the leading side has a lot of craters. Scientists do not know what these white streaks are. Some scientists insist that they are just scientific faults or jagged cracks. On the leading side there are many craters from meteors. The craters are deep and wide. Meteors could have formed some craters while others might have been formed by evolution. Cassini hopefully will be able to tell us why the trailing side has these mysterious streaks and the leading side has craters.

Titan also has some key points worth studying. In some ways, Titan is similar to Earth in that there is liquid on Titan. This liquid is methane and ethane. These gases on Titan act sort of like water on Earth. Scientists do not know exactly know how methane and ethane came to be on Titan, but some scientists believe it may have come from volcanic eruptions. On Earth, volcanoes spew magma, but on Titan there is evidence that its volcanoes spewed methane and ethane. I am hoping Cassinis cameras can help to provide us with more detail about this liquid, and how it came to be.

Another key point is that on Titan clouds are likely formed by evaporated methane and ethane. Earths clouds are also formed by evaporation. However, Titan has many different cloud layer structures. How many layers of clouds does Titan have? I hope Cassinis cameras can capture some cloud images so that we can see how different Titans clouds are than Earths.

Exploring Rhea and Titan and unveiling its secrets are only the beginning of Cassinis journey! It may also provide us with much more accurate and precise information to understand space better after it has completed its mission Exploration Space!"