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International Edition Winners - 2013: Canada, Target 2, Grade 9

International Edition Winners - 2013: Canada, Target 2, Grade 9


Tiffany Bhikram
Dione
Target 2, Dione
Tiffany Bhikram

 
Riverdale Collegiate Institute
Toronto, Ontario

 




"Saturn, one of our solar system's most majestic planets, is orbited by 62 moons, including the mysterious Dione, discovered in 1684. The Cassini-Huygens probe allows scientists to better understand the Saturaninan system; specifically I hope it will help answer some intriguing questions about Dione, such as whether it could ever sustain life.

In fact, looking for places that have the best chances of potentially supporting humanity are one of the main reasons for space exploration. It is for this reason that I have chosen to delve further into Saturn's moon Dione, and have Cassini investigate this moon.

There are many reasons that I have chosen Cassini to investigate Dione. The first reason is that similarly to Earth, Dione is made up of many different landforms and physical features, varying from high mountains to deep valleys and ridges. With the help of Cassini, we could explore the deep bowl-like craters and the long depressions, to -, determine exactly how similar it is to Earth's terrain, including the temperature in the valleys and on top of the mountains. Also, Cassini has helped us discover that the moon is primarily made up of water ice, and a magnetomer on Cassini identified a weak particle stream coming from Dione. Along with this, images provide evidence for a potential liquid or slushy tier of rock on the moon, while other images show ancient cracks or fissures that are not dissimilar to another of Saturn's moons, Enceladus. These pieces of evidence could mean that Dione could have a subterranean ocean just as Enceladus. This information is vital when assessing Dione's ability to sustain life, as water is crucial for all life forms. Another reason I have chosen this moon is that in 2010 a Cassini probe discovered a very thin layer of oxygen ions around Dione, and though it is very thin and not deserving of the term atmosphere, it is still impressive, as oxygen is critical for sustaining humanity. It will also be important to learn about the potential reasons why Dione would not be suitable for life/colonization, such as the fact that Dione's average temperature is -186°C, and that dust from another of Saturn's moons, Enceladus, constantly bombards Dione.

It is for the many reasons listed above, I picked Dione for further exploration by Cassini. Whether it be learning more about the thin layer of oxygen or investigating the possibility of a subterranean ocean, further studying Dione will allow us to learn more about this moon and the Saturanian system in general. More importantly, directing Cassini to Dione will also allow researchers to better understand its potential for sustaining humanity, and can also give us clues as to the geology of other less known natural satellites. In 2015 Cassini will fly by Dione and I believe that this will be the perfect opportunity to collect as much information as possible to extend our knowledge of Dione even further."