Rifa Mahmood

Rifa Mahmood

Grade: 5

School: The Aga Khan School

City: Dhaka

Topic: Miranda


"Miranda is a fascinating moon orbiting Uranus discovered by Gerard P. Kuiper on 16th February 1948. He discovered it through telescopic photos of the Uranian satellite system at the McDonald Observatory in Western Texas. Of all the moons orbiting Uranus, what fascinates me the most about Miranda is the existence of three coronae. It is a distinct feature of this satellite, along with being the tiniest rounded satellite orbiting Uranus and a rough surface with an icy and wide crust.

Earth's moon is significantly larger compared to Miranda. In fact, it is a very small satellite with a diameter of 470 kilometers and a density of 1.2 grams per cubic centimeter. It has a greater percentage of ice compared to rocky materials and has ovals and trapezoid shaped ridges on its surface.

Artist's view of Voyager 2 at Miranda
​As I mentioned above, there are coronae on the surface of Miranda. A corona is a geological feature disparate from its surroundings by belts of coextensive ridges and trough, making it look very mismatched. Another feature of interest in Miranda are the tidal forces generated due to the gravity of Uranus. Gravitational forces can significantly affect the surroundings of Miranda.

For example, Io is a moon of Jupiter and the gravitational pull from Jupiter causes the solid rock surface to stretch up and down, causing volcanic eruptions on the moon. A study in 2014 by Hammond and Barr has shown that the tidal forces in Miranda are the reason for the coronae and the mismatched shape. This constant stretch and squeeze of Miranda maybe enough to generate the heat required to melt Miranda's icy mantle. The minuscule size of Miranda makes it invisible to most telescopes, and all known information we have regarding Miranda was obtained by Voyager 2 during its flyby of the Uranian satellite system.

I believe Miranda would be the most interesting to return to with a spacecraft, due to the ratio ice to rock ratio of the planet. The tidal forces resulting in melting ice and increased surface temperature could make it suitable for life in the future.

Perhaps we can land a spacecraft on Miranda, with instruments such as NASA's latest radiometer or SMAP detector to measure level of moisture in Miranda's

soil. If it does have a significant level of moisture and water, it will be amazing to think of settling in a faraway moon called Miranda."

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