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International Edition Winners 2012: Singapore, Target 2

International Edition Winners 2012: Singapore, Target 2



Celine Espanol
Pan
Target 1, Pan
Celine Espanol

 


"I strongly believe that Target two will yield the most scientific results. Being the
most dynamic of Saturn's rings, the tenuous F ring experiences frequent collisions and
disturbances, resulting in unusual structures like "knots", "kinks" and "clumps". These are
caused by gravitational influences of Saturn's inner moons, like Prometheus and Pandora,
both on either side of the F ring. These two moons act as sheep dogs that keep the ice and
dust particles within the ring. Imaging the F ring allows scientists to study not only the
way the particles clump together or form streaks that deviate away from the ring, but
they can also study the larger objects that interact with these particles, causing the
unusual structures.

The early solar system was an inhabitable violent world, with bodies constantly
bombarding, forming the planets, before it settled to become the solar system as it is
today. In the F ring, some particles escape the gravitational influences of larger bodies
that interact with the ring's constituents and clump together with other particles until
they become large enough not to be broken up by the larger bodies. This is similar to the
hypothesized accretion process that formed our planets and so is the turbulence of the ring
to the early solar system. This resemblance calls for further research on the F ring. For all
we know, observations made on the F ring may just be a simulation of the formation of
our solar system.

The natural processes that occur within the F ring can give scientists a glimpse into
the mechanisms at work in the early solar system, as planets and moons coalesced out of
disks of debris. Therefore, in addition to the physical scientific results that can be obtained
by imaging the ring, scientists can use these physical results to refine the current model of
the early solar system."