Winners - Spain
10 - 12 years old - Saturn's rings, with three of Saturn's moons: Tethys, Enceladus, and Mimas
Paula Morales Palomo
Javier Morales Palomo
My father says we have never learned so much about Earth as when we looked into space. Apollo VIII astronauts made a photograph of the Earth rising from the moon and since then never saw each other again the same. Trying to study life on other planets we have learned much more about life in ours. So why we can not keep staring into space to learn more about our planet?
Some geologists say many million years ago, before the emergence of plants and life more or less as we know now, the Earth was completely covered by ice. Geologists call this global glaciation. It is not yet known for sure why it occurred and why it ended. But if there was, how they could survive those living in a totally ice -‐ covered planet? Maybe that glaciation came not occur ... Actually we know almost nothing about something so important.
Enceladus is fully covered by ice, but under it there is an ocean of salt water. This water comes out of a series of geysers . The ice can be fired into space causing a new Saturn ring.
These geysers on Earth occur because no hot water coming out from the pressure it has. But when there geysers, volcanoes and if there are no volcanoes can be hot water: hot water is not the "geysers" Enceladus?. But if there is salt and hot water under the ice on Enceladus, can not be happening is that the same thing happened on Earth many millions of years ago? Maybe something similar happened on Earth and why those first organisms could survive. There are many things we do not know and very little is known for sure.
That is why we propose to investigate Enceladus. If we study what is happening there we can know what might happen on Earth, how it came about that global glaciation and how those first organisms could survive. And if we discovered as glaciation occurred in Enceladus, we could know how it happened on Earth?
For all this we propose this aim that Cassini should investigate.
10 - 12 years old - Distant image of Jupiter
My favourite target is Jupiter. This year we have studied the Solar System in class. We know quite a lot about it. I was surprised that this was one of the targets to study as we know much more about it than about any of the other targets. And Cassini Huygens has already taken pictures of it in 2000.
We know Jupiter is the 5th planet of the Solar System. It’s one of gas giant
planet, and takes its name after the Roman God Jupiter (Zeus in the Greek mythology). It’s the largest planet in our system and its composed mainly by hydrogen and helium. We have studied its main characteristics:
• It’s the largest and massive planet in the solar system, its mass is 318 times Earth’s one
• It is the faster to rotate, spinning once every ten hours
• Its atmosphere is covered by ammonia clouds highlighting “The Great Red Spot”
I found very interesting the Jupiter’s role as Earth shield. Its great mass attracts most of the comets and asteroids, avoiding an impact on our planet.
We know all this because Jupiter has been studied by different missions since 1973.
• Pioneer 10 and 11 took the first closed pictures from Jupiter and the Galilean satellites, providing information about the atmosphere, magnetic field and belt radiation
• Voyager 1 and 2 in 1979, discovered the ring’s system and its volcanic activity
• Galileo mission , which studied it for seven years, gave information about their satellites
• Cassini-‐Huygens in 2000, took high quality pictures
• New Horizons pass by in 2007 on its way to Pluto. Next July, the probe Juno will fly closer than any other mission and will take pictures tah are going to be available to all citizens , so that they can take part in one of the most interesting citizen science projects.
You will be wondering why I still think that Cassini-‐ Huygens scientist should chose this target.
I think this mission will provide us with very interesting information as it will study Jupiter from a different perspective, as an exoplanet. Everything we learn about these bodies is going to be crucial. At this moment, scientist have discovered 2000 exoplanets and more than ¡¡¡4600 objects are candidates ¡¡¡
All the knowledge provided by Cassini-‐Huygens mission will be of great interest for future missions as Cheops and Plato that will be under the leadership of the next generation of astrophysics that at this moment, like me, will be attending high school.
10 - 12 years old - Movie of Saturn's moon, Tethys, passing behind Rhea
Our team has chosen this target because it was the one we knew the least about.
We learned that these moons were discovered by Cassiny, who referred to them as Sidera Lodoicea
along with Dione and Iapetus.
They are covered with craters as they have no atmosphere. Thetys’ picture reminds us of the Star Wars Death Star, but once we studied all Saturn’s moons we realised that the real Death Star was Mimas with its crater Herschel.
Thetys‘ surface presents less craters, due to its being partially melted over a longer period of time early terrain was erased. Odysseus itself can confirm that, due to the fact that such a big crater implies an impact that would have destroyed a solid object. We have studied such impacts with the “down2earth impact crater” simulator
We were also surprised by its density, one quite similar to the water which justifies the high albedo.
But what really motivated us to choose this target, was the idea that because of the phenomena
called occultation, scientists will be able to obtain a lot of information.
Occultation takes place when a celestial body hides another one when being viewed from Earth. At first, we thought that occultations, eclipses and transits were all the same thing, but after some research we found that they depend on the apparent sizes of both bodies. If both apparent sizes are equal, then we see an eclipse. If the apparent size of the hidden one is bigger it’s a transit.
Occultation takes place when the hidden body is smaller than the body that hides it.
The most interesting thing about occultations is that they provide a lot of information, such as the
composition and the density of atmospheres of different celestial bodies, its size and their rings.
We can highlight:
• 1968, 4388 BD-17 occultation enabled scientists to calculate Neptune’s diameter
• 1977, Urano’s rings were discovered thanks to SAO 158687 occultation
• 1989, the occultation of 28 Sagittarii by Saturno gave scientists information about its ring
• 2001, the analysis of the data from the occultation of a binary system by Titan provided
information about its atmosphere
There are many doubts regarding Rhea and Thetys that could be solved due to this occultation.
We hope to learn about their internal structure and composition, their geological activity and their
interaction with Saturn’s magnetosphere and ring system quite soon.
We would like our essay to be chosen and that scientist can learn from this target as much as we
have learned while working on it.
13 - 15 years old - Saturn's rings, with three of Saturn's moons: Tethys, Enceladus, and Mimas
Lucía Villena González
Cristina Villanueva Corona
Four centuries after the discovery of Saturn, we have delved into the study of this mysterious planet. The US Space Agency (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the italian agency (ASI) have designed the Cassini-Huygens mission to study Saturn and its satellites.
Saturn in Roman mythology was the father of Jupiter. Legend says that this God killed all their children, to avoid being overthrown, but was eventually defeated by Zeus, the god who represents Jupiter.
Saturn is a gaseous planet, the sixth planet from the Sun, and the second in size and mass, after Jupiter. It is also the only one with a ring system visible from Earth. Saturn's rings were first observed in July 1610 by Galileo Galilei. It has a set of four planetary rings, composed of dust and other small particles orbiting the planet.
We believe that the target should be Saturn and its satellites, primarily because this planet remains a mystery to mankind. It is the most oval planet in the Solar System, and the only planet with a lower density than water density. Also we do not know exactly its rotation period, because of the lack of a solid or liquid surface and because its atmosphere rotates with a different period depending on the latitude. Even more striking is the latest research indicating that the period of rotation can be changed over time due to the interaction of the magnetic field of the planet with the cryovolcanic activity of its satellite Enceladus, which emits gases in the form of geysers.
We consider it very important to continue these studies about Saturn. So we could use the plasma spectrometer of Cassini (CAPS) ship, which will allow us to know in detail Saturn's ionosphere, and changes in its magnetic field. Also, we can use the images obtained with the magnetometer included in Cassini ship.
Another interesting target is satellite Enceladus. Its surface is characterized as being old and cratered, but another part of its surface may be young and smooth. It is located in the E ring, and has recently been found to have a tenuous atmosphere. This satellite has an ocean of liquid water, which acts as a layer between the outer ice and rock core. Another of the many questions we can ask is the causes of the existence of geysers on the moon's surface. These phenomena could come from effervescent oceans, located under a crust 40 meters thick. Cassini flew over these geysers found they were composed of water vapor and hydrocarbons mixed with some small icy particles. Currently, they could further focus on the study of these phenomena, because the hot water could be a favorable environment for the existence of extraterrestrial life.
13 - 15 years old - Distant image of Jupiter
Jupiter has been a point of interest for scientists since ancient times when babylonian scientists looked at it through the naked eye. The largest planet in our Solar System, Jupiter has been thoroughly studied, and one of the few mysteries left is its massive thunderstorm three times the size of Earth, named the Great Red Spot. But I’m not here to talk about Jupiter. I’m here to convince you to photograph Jupiter from the Cassini spacecraft that’s currently orbiting Saturn.
If Jupiter were to be photographed by Cassini from the 645 million km distance from Saturn to Jupiter then it could be studied as an exoplanet by the engineers back on Earth. It would yield invaluable information about how to improve instruments to photograph exoplanets. Exoplanets are planets outside of our Solar System. One of the most important things about this photograph would be to create a system to efficiently discern whether exoplanets have an atmosphere or not. If scientists were to take a picture of Jupiter (which has an atmosphere) and compare it to a photograph of an exoplanet which definitely doesn't have an atmosphere, they could compare both photographs and spot the differences, thus creating a sort of rubric for them to know only from a photograph if an exoplanet has an atmosphere or not.
But what are the goals of knowing if an exoplanet has an atmosphere? Well having an atmosphere is the first step towards having a habitable planet, so if scientists were able to find exoplanets with atmospheres it would be a huge step towards finding life on other planets. And it doesn't stop there. The planet's atmosphere could then be searched for biomarkers, imprints that life form have on their atmosphere. By photographing Jupiter the technology to do all this could be developed, tested and used in future missions.
Potential candidates to be photographed should this technology be developed would be Kepler 78b and Wasp-12b. Kepler 78b would be an interesting exoplanet to analyze because of its proximity to its parent star. Kepler is 40 times nearer to its Sun-like star than Mercury is to our Sun, and it just so happens that Kepler is also the approximate size of Earth. The photographs would reveal information about its possible atmosphere and maybe tell us how a planet is affected by being so close to a star. Wasp-12b would be an option too, as it is slowly being pulled apart by its parent star. It would be interesting to watch the effect of this phenomenon on the planet and its atmosphere.
All in all, I believe that a small thing like taking a picture of Jupiter can develop into something much greater, like the discovery of life on other planets. That is why I believe that Cassini should take a picture of Jupiter from a distance of 645,000,000 km away.
13 - 15 years old - Movie of Saturn's moon, Tethys, passing behind Rhea
José García Chacón
The mission I have chosen is the third target, the occultation of Tethys by Rhea. An occultation or eclipse is an event in which two celestial bodies get aligned, and one of them passes in front of the other, so we cannot see the second body. I have chosen this mission because I think it can be very useful.
Both moons Tethys and Rhea are a mystery to science. In Rhea scientist have discovered that there is a thin atmosphere composed of oxygen and carbon dioxide, being the only celestial body (excluding Earth) having oxygen, which in my opinion is the most intriguing, and not only because of the possibility to find some type of organism that could survive in that atmosphere. With sufficient technology development in the future you could create a research base in this moon, with the help of the presence of oxygen in its atmosphere. It would be necessary to develop new energy sources, because at that distance from the Sun, the solar energy would not be effective. Perhaps when we are able to have a scientific base inhabited in places like Rhea, we already have nuclear fusion generators.
Tethys is also very interesting because it is an icy satellite with a very similar density of water, so perhaps within some kind of liquid that does not know or just liquid water is found. Also an important thing it is the Ithaca Chasma, a huge valley about 100 km wide with a depth of 3-5 km and a length of 2000 km. Both satellites have been observed emitting jets of unknown particles and strange markings which are called "tiger scratches", about which we know virtually nothing. Investigate all this would be possible by the instrumentation available to the Cassini spacecraft, such as the Imaging Science Subsystem, that could photograph with a high spatial resolution, and also with the Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer instrument, providing information on the distribution and chemical characteristics of minerals on its surface.
We can conclude, therefore, that the benefits of this mission would be to study the possibility of life outside our planet, which would mean a revolution for humankind. In addition, the possibility of having oxygen would allow create a lunar research base that would serve as another observation point to Saturn and beyond.
16 - 18 years old - Saturn's rings, with three of Saturn's moons: Tethys, Enceladus, and Mimas
Irene Martín Salguero
Reyes Bellido Gajete
The first thing that comes to mind when we hear about the planet Saturn is its rings. However, Saturn is also famous for its many moons.
It was not until 1656 when the Dutchman Christiaan Huygens observed the first and since then a succession of scientists like Cassini and Herschel have been discovering all others. They have different kind of sizes and compositions and are known as '' satellite shepherds '' because they allow to hold together the famous Saturn’s rings. On December third, the Cassini-‐Huygens spacecraft will be in a perfect position to capture three of these moons: Tethys, Mimas and Enceladus. The first is the fifth thicker of Saturn's moons. Two types of surfaces exist in Tethys: one with high cratering regions and a second consisting of a diffuse ring with a few craters, indicating that was geologically active. It also has a water-‐like density. In relation to Mimas, it is known for being a low density body, possibly composed mostly of ice with a small concentration of denser materials. On its surface presents a huge impact crater, which was so violent that produced visible fractures on the opposite side of the satellite. Regarding Enceladus, its surface is covered with ice and reflects almost 100% of the incoming sunlight. There are also geysers of water flowing from the moon.
Now we know Tethys, Mimas and Enceladus, let's see why it would be helpful to study.
Firstly, on the surface of the northern part of Tethys it has been seen a kind of red archs with narrow, curved lines. Its origin and colour is a mystery to scientists. Among the various possibilities are included chemical impurities resulting from the degassing inside Tethys or geological fractures. It would be interesting to study this phenomenon, its functionality and whether in a hypothetical case it is dangerous how to prevent its harmful effects.
Secondly, the impact crater Mimas corresponds to the impact of a comet that almost completely destroys the moon. That is why it could be related to the comet that caused the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous. So is it possible that there was some type of life before the big impact on Mimas? It should been studied this possibility to learn if it would be the same kind of life that exist in the Earth or other one.
Finally, in Enceladus there is an ocean beneath its surface and its geysers. A geyser ejected a column of hot water and steam. It has been shown that Enceladus geysers only expelled steam, but it would be advantageous to study its chemical composition and to know its hydrothermal activity that could allow simple life forms on this moon.
In our opinion, Saturn’s moons have a great potential to study. Furthermore, they could bring great advances in science and benefits to humans.
16 - 18 years old - Distant image of Jupiter
Tatyana Olesya Barbero Acosta
Andrea Jiménez Urbano
Verónica De Lózar Mena
We chose the second target, Jupiter, because it gives us the opportunity to solve one of the biggest unknowns: the origins of life. We propose to focus research on the study of one of the satellites of Jupiter, Europa.
If we focus on Europe it would be possible to confirm the existence of oceans so we can investigate other conditions, together with liquid water, life can cause. Then we could make a comparison of two phenomena: the earthly life and possible life in Europe, from which an interpretation and similarities will be sought in order to gradually resolve questions concerning the origins of life.
There is evidence of a difference in temperature between Europe and our planet, because previous studies show that Europe has a 50oK temperatures at the poles and 125oK in Ecuador, clearly different from the land (193oK at the poles and in the rest 333oK). Our planet went through different stages before reaching the current, so we can assume that Europa's surface could experience the same changes and reach optimal conditions for the development of life.
We know the existence of an atmosphere in Europe, but it does not possess the same characteristics as the earth's atmosphere, it can go progressively acquiring them as it happened with the primitive atmosphere of the earth, which was poor in oxygen and developed autotrophs , this concentration has increased. In addition, within the already known features of the atmosphere in Europe, we find the presence of oxygen, in a small proportion. James Lovelok defends Gaia’s hypothesis of planetary self-‐ regulation systems where there is life. One important aspect in this regard is maintaining its unstable gas concentrations atmospheres thanks to the action of organisms, so the presence of O2 is evidence of life.
Given the existence of liquid water and oxygen must be serious, sine qua non for the existence of life. In addition, the Galileo probe has found that under the permafrost, which has the satellite, is an ocean of liquid water. In addition, the presence of liquid water under the ice could allow the existence of life.
Other data collected shows the presence of salts, particularly magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) and volatiles such as carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)
In order to understand the processes that could occur in Europe, we could compare them with those that occurred on earth M.a 3800, which would have more tools to know the origin of life on Earth.
For these reasons we think you should move forward in this field of research.
16 - 18 years old - Movie of Saturn's moon, Tethys, passing behind Rhea
Elena Haurie Lara
Carmen Ballano Pérez
To do this project we have chosen the next objective: study the geologic activity and the possibility of life in the satellites Rhea and Thetis, due to a recent discovery by the Cassini mission that Thetis and Dione are thrown particles to the space. But our project is not to study Dione we are only going to study Rhea and Thetis.
Thetis is a frozen satellite with medium size, very similar to Rhea. It is covered of craters and it is density is approximately the same as the water, so we can think that is composed principal with this. The surface has lot of indents caused by failures in the frozen surface, so we can differentiate two types: one composed of regions with hight density of cratering and the other is a ring with not a lot of craters. All of this characteristics show that Thetis was being geologically active once, so we have chosen this objective because why not it can be active nowadays? Cassini mission discovered a possible geological activity in the satellite and due to this we think that is interesting to continue studying the satellite and discovered more curiosities that can be extremely useful to the development of the science.
Secondly, we have chosen another important satellite of Saturn, Rhea, and we are going to talk about some characteristics of it. Is the second biggest satellite of Saturn. Scientific think that it has a rocky core. It has been discovered by Giovanni Cassini. Is a frozen moon and its density shows that it can have a a rocky core. The surface has lot of craters and brilliant marks. Cassini mission discovered a little atmosphere composed with oxigene and dioxide of carbon. The discovering that is the only celestial corps, apart of the Earth, in the scientific have detected atmospheric oxigene, whit quantities that exceed this of the Earth. This characteristic of Rhea can be really important because we arrive at the conclusion that if there are oxigene, why not can exist life in it?
In conclusion, we can stand out the importance of the Cassini mission in the discovering of many advances to the humans. And also, we want to mention the importance of investigation nowadays, because we don’t realize about that but we are hear due to this. We hope that over the years we could continue investigate more and we will arrive new findings, because although science has advanced a lot the last years, we haven’t arrived to discovered a thousandth part of the curiosities that involved the universe.