content long 21-August-2019 11:02:29

Winners - France

13 -15 years old - Tethys, Enceladus, Mimas, and Saturn's rings

Authors:

Louis Demiot
Alexandre Lucas
Hugo Piton

 

We are French students, entering the “Cassini scientist for a day” competition. We have chosen target number one because it’s an exceptional opportunity to have an image of the Saturn rings, with three of the Saturn’s moons at the same time. 

Saturn is the most beautiful planet of the solar system. Its gorgeous rings are not visible from Earth with unaided vision. Moreover, scientists know that Saturn rings are mainly made of different sized rocks, ice and dusts. They measure a hundred and twenty-five thousand kilometre width and about only ten meters thick but nobody knows how old the rings are. There is still no consensus as to their mechanism of formation; some characteristics of the rings show the possibility of a relatively recent origin, but theoretical models indicate an early formation in the history of the solar system. It’s therefore a rare chance to study it.

Another reason we have chosen target number one is that it would permit to have exceptional and rare images of three of Saturn’s moons: Enceladus, Mimas, and Tethys. Enceladus is a really mysterious body, covered by a salty liquid water ocean, under a thin layer of ice. The others, Mimas and Tethys also have their particularities that must be studied.

Enceladus, is a really mysterious body, covered by a salty liquid water ocean, under a thin layer of ice. There are geysers observations on Enceladus surface that show that Enceladus is geologically active today. This is so a special moment to take photos of these phenomena. These geysers are erupting from four fractures on Enceladus surface. Their origin are unknown for the moment, it's so a divisive topic. Moreover, better understanding of the geysers could allow to discover what is happening in Enceladus subterranean environment. It is hence a marvellous chance to make new discoveries and enrich the science.

Mimas has a low density that let think that it is principally made of water ice, with a small part of rock. The cratering at Mimas surface is not uniform. The impact craters are littlest in the South Polar Region. It is there a way to discover what this phenomenon is.

Tethys, is a mid-sized moon of Saturn. It has the lowest density of all the major moons in the Solar System, 0.98 g/cm3, showing that it is made of water ice with just a small part of rock, like Mimas. The water ice is confirmed as the dominant surface material. A small amount of an unidentified dark material has also been viewed on this moon. Choosing target number one could allow scientists to discover what this unidentified dark material is! Another reason that shows that target number one is the greater one!

By allowing lots of possible and desirable discoveries, by taking incredible and rare photographs, target number one is the best choice for Cassini project. These photographs and discoveries would help scientists to better know how the Saturn's rings were created and better understand Enceladus, Mimas and Tethys. Being Cassini scientists for a day, we are convinced that target number one is the best one.


Last Update: 26 May 2016

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