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Cassini Scientist for a Day -- Fall 2009 Winner
Target 2: Tethys & Rings, Grade 7 & 8

Cassini Scientist for a Day -- Fall 2009 Winner
Target 2: Tethys & Rings, Grade 7 & 8


Caroline Fontenot
Tethys & Saturn's Rings
Tethys & Saturn's Rings
Caroline Fontenot

8th Grade
Charles F. Bolden Middle School
Teacher: Pat Musgrave
Beaufort, S.C.


"A driving force most people have in their lives is to make new discoveries. Whether it is the safest way to build a car or a better way to save the environment, people strive to make new discoveries every day. That is why Cassini should aim the satellite towards Tethys and Saturn's rings. By taking the photo of Tethys, we can make new breakthroughs of the two shepherd moons in Saturn's F ring and even find the new moon scientists believe exists, but have no evidence of as of now. I believe that we should definitely consider taking the picture of target number two, Tethys and Saturn's rings.

Tethys is one of Saturn's forty-seven moons that offers much to be discovered. It is covered with craters that are close together on one side and more widely spread on another. The biggest crater on Tethys is Odysseus, most likely formed by impact from an asteroid or something like it. The crater has smoothed out over the years and is now fairly flat. Scientists can infer more about the impact and see if there is anything else that the asteroid may have affected by taking the photo of Tethys and Saturn's rings.

On the other side of the moon, there is a large valley called Ithaca Chasma. One theory of how Ithaca Chasma was formed is that when the asteroid hit the other side of the moon to form Odysseus, it also formed Ithaca Chasma. Another theory is that a long time ago when the liquids inside Tethys cooled and became solid, the moon needed to expand, so it cracked open to form Ithaca Chasma. The photograph will help scientists understand which theory is correct and possibly present alternative theory.

One other item to be portrayed in the photograph is Saturn's F ring. All pictures in the past have shown that some parts of the F ring are clumped up and others seem to be "braided". This is because of the two moons, Pandora and Prometheus, in the F ring. The two moons both have different gravitational pulls, so when the two moons converge, they change orbits. I believe that by pointing the satellite toward target two, we can learn more extensively what truly is going on when the ring appears clumped.

I strongly believe that Cassini should consider target number two because of all the information it could provide. Many people are looking for new discoveries in their knowledge of Saturn which makes target number two the most reasonable. We will be able to learn more about the impact of an asteroid on Tethys, learn about how Ithaca Chasma was formed, get a better understanding of how Prometheus and Pandora affect the F ring, and discover proof of the new moon. Just like building a safer car or saving the environment, say yes to gaining new information and point the satellite toward target number two, Tethys and Saturn's rings."