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International Edition Winners 2009: India (Grade 11-12: Target 3)

International Edition Winners 2009: India (Grade 11-12: Target 3)


Rohin Vajawat
Saturn and Rings
Titan
Rohin Vajawat

12th Grade; Teacher: Martha Carol Pitta

International School of Hyderabad



" Resemblance of an alien environment to something as intimate as home does stir up questions and answers.As intrigue as it maybe, it is vital that we understand the reasons for such similarity and augment these findings to our limited knowledge about this moon - Titan.

Titan is the second largest moon and probably the only moon with a significant atmosphere in the solar system. Our limited understanding of the Titan's surface is because of this atmosphere that is so thick that the existing optical devices are unable to capture images of the surface and other geographical features. However with more attempts being made, such as the Cassini and Huygen probes and radar technology, about one-third of its surface has been mapped. The most interesting feature of the surface of Titan is the prominent geographical similarity to the Earth. Lakes, oceans, volcanoes and even mountain ranges have been detected, thus making it the most similar body to Earth in the solar system. The terrain is rugged and shows evidence of erosion from methane rain and from liquid seeping from underground. However, unlike Earth, lakes and oceans are filled with liquids like methane and ethane and not water. Although these compounds in the gaseous state on Earth, on Titan they are liquids due to the temperatures. These liquids even act in a sequence like water in hydrological cycle. Overall, the conditions on Titan are like the conditions on Earth when life first emerged.

With the technological capability of Cassini and expertise of the team associated with it converged on Titan, a lot of other useful information about this moon could be revealed. In hypothetical context, there are a lot of methods to utilize this information. If the temperature is controlled, the reactions with hydrocarbons will give water or the ammonia depositions could be reacted to give a more diverse range of organic compounds. A possible outcome could be even simple forms of life which could be later genetically altered to survive such extreme climates and unusual gravity and environment. Also in supply of oxygen the hydrocarbons could be combusted to give energy to machines used for conducting research and development programmes on the moon. The simplest would be to use mechanisms of systems functioning on Titan to get a better understanding of history of our Earth.

These plans are still far from execution and are not possible now, but they can be definitely be worked towards as we progress with research and investigations. The similarity in dynamics of Titan and Earth cannot be a mere coincidence and the mystery still remains unsolved. "