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International Edition Winners 2009: Saudi Arabia (7 - 8 grade)

International Edition Winners 2009: Saudi Arabia (7 - 8 grade)


Safa Fazal Haque
Titan
Titan
Safa Fazal Haque

8th Grade -- Middle East International School
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


"Saturn's largest moon was the first moon of Saturn discovered. Some of the names it held, back when it was discovered in 1655 by Christiaan Huygens, were Saturni Luna, Saturn II, Saturn IV and Saturn VI. But we now know it as Titan.

Titan is the second largest moon in the solar system after Ganymede (one of Jupiter's moons). It is much larger than Earth?s moon and smaller than mercury, the smallest planet. However, in comparison to mercury's volume, it is much larger.

Titan has a thick layer of methane, ethane and nitrogen all around it which obstructs the study of its surface, just like Venus. But the Cassini Spaceship has succeeded in finding out what lies beneath this thick blanket of gases. Titan is very much like how the Earth was several billion years ago, except the temperature is relatively very low. It contains many features of the early Earth, as well as the Earth we now live in. Titan shows the movement of wind on its surface and appearances of clouds, sometimes stormy ones and has occasions of rain of methane. It is the only heavenly body after Earth to have been found with surface water bodies! It also has layers of water under its surface. It has features such as mountains, dunes and volcanoes as well. A wide angle camera shot taken on 11th October, 2009 by the Cassini spacecraft, portrays the surface of Titan which very much even looks like the Earth.

The volcanoes found on Titan do not emit molten rock or lava. Instead, they give out water, ammonia or methane. Such a volcanic eruption activity is called Cryovolcanism. The water and ammonia could be pouring out from the layers of ammonia and water under the moon's surface. The methane which comes out adds to the sheet of the gas around the surface, which could be the reason of such a thick layer of methane involved in consisting of the outer gaseous layer of the moon.

From all this I can assume that Titan would have easily achieved the status of a planet if it itself was not rotating around another (Saturn). With the presence of water, ammonia, nitrogen, methane and some more matter which may perhaps evolve later, Titan may the next region of life forms. And this is the major reason why I found Titan so interesting. It could be the next body from which a spacecraft might come, probably to see what exists on Earth! And for the first time we will be able to meet creatures whom we will call "Aliens!"