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International Edition Winners 2009: China (4th Year Undergraduate)

International Edition Winners 2009: China (4th Year Undergraduate)


Liu Yiwei
Titan
Titan
Liu Yiwei

4th year; Sun Yat-sen University

Guangzhou, China



"Full attention for Titan!

Inside every soul, there is a wonderland, with the most amazing impossibilities. I have always felt that Titan is that of mine. Therefore, I will vote with all my fingers and tows for Titan to be the main object observed by Cassini.

Titan is the largest moon of Saturn, which is indicated by the name we dedicated to it. This moon, unlike anyone else in the solar system, in many respects, highly resembles our earth. Isn’t it bizarre to analogize a moon and a planet, just like trying to make a sensible comparison of a soccer and a watermelon? But that’s the point where it is downright attractive. It’s not simply a moon as ours. This big baby celestial body, having been under the detection of the Huygens probe, is already tossing our view. We can hear its snoring when it blows in its atmosphere. And we can see it slobbering when rivers of methane run across its surface. Like a real baby, Titan has so many sides of it. It’s quiet, but not dead. It’s solitude, but it has so many fans, like me, who cannot wait to unveil its haze.

In the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, the children and even the adults were overwhelmed seeing waterfalls of melted chocolate and mountains of fudges. Candies were the cravings for people in the fairytale like, in this industrializing modern world facing the strain of energy crisis, natural gas and petroleum for our thirsty earth, so that I would pay anything for a glance at the lakes of methane and dunes of hydrocarbon. And this time, it’s not only the illusion out of the imagination of movie-makers. It’s real! Doesn’t that sound exciting? Further more, with the space elevator under development, the ready-to-collect liquid resource means more fascination than ever.

Meanwhile, Titan can be a huge natural scientific laboratory, for we can avoid the influence of human activities and try out new ideas without doing harm to creatures. We can launch physical experiments by appropriately harnessing the plasma interaction as it goes from south to north of Saturn's solar-wind-warped magnetodisk from one solstice to the next. The chemical processes going on in the atmosphere shed light upon the origin of life. Seasons on Titan is seven times as long as that on the earth, so that the meteorology changes which are too fast for us to follow can be studied by determining seasonal changes in methane-hydrocarbon hydrological cycle of lakes, clouds, aerosols and their seasonal transport on Titan.

We have less than a year left, and the chances of Cassini encountering Titan can be counted on fingers (10 times exactly). Then comes the end of the Equinox Mission, but the exploration of the universe never terminates. I believe what we see on Titan will boom our cosmic adventure."