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International Edition Winners 2009: Nepal

International Edition Winners 2009: Nepal


Abinish Kumar Dutt
Titan
Titan
Abinish Kumar Dutt

St. Xavier's College -- Grade: 12/td>

Maitighar Kathmandu



"I've chosen the third image, that is, of 'Titan'. It has been my choice because comparing it with the rest of the Saturnian system, with those in the first two images, I find its study greatly important because of the resemblances it has with the primeval Earth, a few present Earth-like processes, a substantial and active atmosphere rich in nitrogen and hydrocarbons like methane and chances of sprouting of exotic lives. The diverse processes when understood could help us know much about the whole of Solar system, I believe.

The understanding of seasonal patterns at Titan and of its methanological cycle that is much similar to the Earth's hydrological cycle could be much important. The first stable surface liquid bodies off Earth have been found on Titan (especially in the polar regions at northern latitudes). These may host some prebiotic like chemistry that could flourish life. High-energy cosmic rays could kindle reactions forming more complex molecules. An orderly shifting of a number of locations on Titan's surface suggested that an internal ocean (believed to be of liquid water with ammonia about 62 miles beneath the surface) decombined the icy crust from its core letting it move. Some suppositions condition that,'while extreme by terrestrial standards, the sub-surface oceanic life could indeed survive.' A few impact craters revealed on Titan's surface suggest a youthful surface. Before Cassini mission it was thought that where the impactor craters the water-ice crust, little ejecta still remains that if persists longer as liquid, synthesis of simple precursor molecules can be sufficiently supported to originate life. The climate with much of wind and rain creates Earth like features like sand dunes and shorelines. If we observe the progress of youthful topography, the way mountain-like structures and other features get formed, we may understand how various processes make up such surface features and learn much about our own planet too. Observing the pattern of photochemical reactions on Titan's haze could give us informations, approaches similar to which we could apply on the early Earth's haze to know things about Earth's chemistry better.

As we have seen from all these points, Titan's most important feature is the prebiotic chemistry not quite evidently seen on the rest of the Saturnian system. Talking about the rest two images, the Saturn's main body seems quite difficult to penetrate and to me quite unimportant too as compared to Titan at this stage and the Tethys' features suggest that it was once internally more active than now meaning some processes have been retarded, I think. Titan's study seems more important. Titan may be a good place for silicon-based life, if it exists, unlike us, the carbon lives. They could possibly use hydrocarbon mixtures in the lakes as solvents, unlike water we use. Similar chain of evolutionary steps as on Earth is unlikely to be approximated elsewhere, so humanoids are unlikely to prevail, as G.G Simpson once said. If we compare the conditions at Titan and Earth, we can perhaps find the differences in the evolution of prebiotic chemistry and discover the necessary condition. Titan, thus gives us an intriguing natural laboratory to help us much about our own Earth and also the Solar system."