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International Edition Winners 2010: New Zealand, 1st place

International Edition Winners 2010: New Zealand, 1st place



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Titan and Tethys
Soma Csepcsenyi


Year 10 (NZ)

Teacher Advisor: Bonita Menezes
Green Bay High School


Auckland, New Zealand



"I believe the best target for observation and imaging for the Cassini probe is the moons; Titan, Tethys and Enceladus. I believe this as the capabilities of the Cassini probe suit the observation and imaging of these targets better then the other targets at this time.

The upcoming flyby of Titan allows the Cassini probe to take images of the three moons Titan, Tethys and Enceladus together in multiple frames allowing images of Titan's hazy, changing atmosphere, Tethys' large Odysseus crater and Ithaca chasm and Enceladus' icy and highly reflective surface all in one image. Observation of Titan and the two other significant moons Tethys and Enceladus could shed further light on the many geological wonders and how they came to be, like Titans Mountains and its hydrocarbon sand dunes, lakes and seas filled with liquid ethane, Tethys' craters that due to the elasticity of the moon change shape and Enceladus' smooth reflective plains and tiger stripes.

Further observation and study could be made on the effects of Saturn's magnetosphere on Titan and Enceladus. As the two moons produce products ejected into the magnetosphere like water vapour, nitrogen and hydrogen, the radiolysis reaction produces small amounts of oxygen. Observation could be made into the development of weak atmospheres of oxygen on the rings and moons of Saturn.

The atmosphere of Titan which is rich in nitrogen much like Earths own atmosphere may be a clue along with wind and rain as to why Titan looks like an earlier version of Earth on the surface. Further observation into the development of Titans complex atmosphere with Cassini's instruments like the UVIS, VIMS, INMS, and Radar could help further understand why Titan has been able to keep its atmosphere (whilst other similar size moons could not) through the use of scanning the surface for signs of cryovolcanic activity and a source of methane on or in Titan could help us further understand its atmosphere.

Observation of Enceladus could give significant evidence toward the theory that under its icy surface a global liquid ocean may be present like the ones thought to be under the moon Europa. Collection of data and samples could give further evidence toward this theory, like collection and imaging of the particles released by the cryovolcanoes to check if further salts and carbonates are found in the samples.

If the theory of a global liquid ocean under the surface of Enceladus is correct then two Saturnian moons would be capable of supporting simple life as an under surface global ocean (Enceladus) and a nitrogen atmosphere (Titan) could both support Extremophiles like Tardigrades which can survive in extremely cold temperatures, high, low pressures and radiation.

These are just the tip of the iceberg of the opportunities that target two, the three moons of Saturn, Titan, Tethys and Enceladus can have if further observed, imaged and studied. Observation could lead to insights into the past geology and determining future geological changes of the moons. Eventually, even possibilities for Astrobiological testing are possible."