Azneef Ahammed Chowdhury

Azneef Ahammed Chowdhury

Grade: 7

School: Chittagong Grammar School (CGS)

City: Chattogram

Topic: Charon


"The mystery of the existence of alien life forms outside of our world has been one of the most fundamental inspirations for cosmic exploration. And these explorations have led us to discover countless planets, stars and moons. The aforementioned inspirations have let us get a glimpse of the moons Miranda, Triton and Charon.

Our goal is to get further information about these distant worlds. But there lays the main questionwhich one to explore first? Here is my reason why Charon, the largest moon of the dwarf planet, Pluto, should be the first of many to be explored.

Artist's view of New Horizon and Charon
​Charon, the largest moon of Pluto, is one of the most unique natural satellites ever discovered. Ever since the visit to the Pluto system by the New Horizons probe launched by NASA in 2015, we have known shocking facts about Charon.

Firstly, Charon is about half the size of Pluto. Because of its size and gravitational pull, it also is the barycenter of the plutonian system. This also gives us another fact; Pluto and Charon are orbiting each other every 6.387 days. Pluto also orbits the Sun simultaneously.

Secondly, the reddish-brown cap on the north-pole of Charon is composed of organic macromolecules and theolins, which are considered as essential ingredients of life. Early images showed an unexpectedly dark polar cap, which scientists think could be the result of material migrating over from Pluto. And although we can only guess if there are any life forms in Charon, it seems more promising than the other moons, Miranda and Triton. And on the voyage of New Horizons to Pluto in 2015, scientists saw a giant chasm, which is thought to be a water ice ocean in the equator of Charon. I have my own hypothesis that the cryovolcanoes present in the surface of Charon may emit water that would be easier to convert into liquid form. We could also extract oxygen from the water for breathing and hydrogen for using as rocket fuel.

Charon, compared to Uranus’ moon, Miranda, has a more plain surface. Miranda has a rocky surface filled with craters and volcanoes which would make it impossible for a rover or probe to move around in the first missions. But that doesn’t mean that Charon is completely flat. Its 487 600 000 kilometers square surface area has craters and mountains. The famous Kubrick Mons, or the mountain in a moat, is also located there. The Organa, one of the most unique craters of Charon, is filled with frozen ammonia on it. This crater could be the youngest in Charon, as maybe the impact that created it hit a pocket of ammonia-rich subsurface ice. But that doesn’t mean that there is no possibility for Charon itself to be producing this ammonia by itself.

There is a very high possibility that these questions will remain a mystery to us forever. This is because the components that still require further knowledge might “disintegrate” forever. So therefore it is our duty to explore Charon further."

Solar System News