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2013 Edition -- Target 1: Iapetus, Grade 5 and 6 Winner

2013 Essay Contest: Target 1, Grade 5 and 6 Winner


Maya Page
Iapetus
Target 1, Iapetus
Maya Page

Arbor View School
5th Grade
Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Teacher: Mary Lou Andacht


"I always thought moons were boring. I never considered how different each and every moon could be. When I read about Saturn's moons, one of them caught my eye. It was target one, Iapetus. This is a mystical moon, with a very tall mountain range, a weird dark side, and a heavily cratered surface. I kept wanting to read more about it, like a good book, and I was thirsty for answers to this moon's mysteries.

There are many secrets about Saturn's moon Iapetus. Half of this moon is dark! Davide Silvestri, JPL's Cassini researcher, mentions that the other half of the moon looks to be covered in a white, powdery material. I think the white material may be ice. Could close up images taken by Cassini tell us what this white material is? I think so!
One theory is that there could be ice volcanism distributing darker material to the surface. Another idea is that there's another moon, such as Phoebe, that is sweeping up particles onto Iapetus causing the darkness. Scientists are still trying to figure out these answers, and close up photos of the moon could provide us information needed to solve its mysteries.

Photographs would also provide us with information about Iapetus' strange mountain ridge around the equator. This mountain range is 6 miles high. It is taller than Mt. Everest! I wonder how this mountain ridge was formed. I think that the mountains could be volcanic. That could be what's distributing the dark material to that half of the moon and replenishing the surface. Scientists have their theories too. One theory is that the ridge was formed when one of Saturn's rings collapsed. Another theory is it may have been formed when Iapetus rotated a lot faster than it does now. Cassini needs to take photographs of Iapetus' huge mountain ridge so that we know how it was formed.

Another very interesting thing about Iapetus is its deep craters. It has many craters, which tells scientists that its surface is very old. I think this is a cool fact. Some of these craters are gigantic. The biggest, Roland is 90 miles across! The second largest is 84 miles across. This is another reason why Cassini should target this moon so that we can find out how old this moon is, and also learn what caused these craters.

There are 50 mile landslides spotted on this icy moon. Scientists say these landslides, despite the differences in the material, may help in our understanding of how the landslides on Earth and Mars move. Not only will we learn facts about Iapetus, but images can also provide Scientists with answers about Earth and Mars landslides. This could help Scientists predict our landslides which might save earth lives! I think this would benefit us greatly.

What is the light and dark material? Where do the craters come from? How did the super tall mountain range form? Choose target one, Iapetus. Like a good book, I want the blank pages of the moon of many mysteries to be written."