Why the Cassini Hyugens Space Probe Should Visit the F-Ring

Topics: Saturn, Planet, Solar System Pages: 3 (969 words) Published: January 10, 2013
Cassini Target: F-ring
Since ancient times, man has pondered over the great enigma about how our universe was formed. In earlier times we have answered this question through creationism, but with our burgeoning thirst of knowledge, we quench this thirst with science. Although we have a superior understanding of how our universe was formed, this question still remains. By sending Cassini to the f-ring of Saturn we can observe how planets form and interact with other matter in space, determine the definitive age of the rings and disprove pre-existing theories about Saturn as a whole.

A subject of constant debate for scientists has always been the age of Saturn’s rings. Many say that the rings of Saturn are as old as the Universe itself topping at 4.6 billion years old and others have made the conjecture that the rings are only 100 million years old. By sending the Cassini space probe to the f-ring we can explore Saturn’s complex ring-moon relationship and determine Saturn’s definitive age once and for all. The ring-moon relationship is a complex one made up of a series of processes. According to Jeff Cuzzi, an interdisciplinary scientist for rings and dust for NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, these processes involve the gravitational pushes and pulls, called resonances, which Saturn's moons and rings exert on each other and the cascading effects that those resonances have on other physical processes in the rings. (Thompson) Eventually these resonances will eventually push the moons outside of Saturn’s Roche limit and suck the rings in. Since this would have happened years ago if the rings were simply 4.6 billion years old, we can make the conjecture that Saturn’s rings are much younger. Using the Cassini-Huygens space probe’s Ultra-Violet Imaging Spectrometer (UVIS) and Cosmic Dust Analyzer, (CDA) scientists can determine the composition of all particles ranging from cosmic dust 1 micrometer in size to kilometer sized debris in the f-ring. (By using Cassini’s state of...
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