Syed Nazif Ishrak

Syed Nazif Ishrak

Grade: 11

School: Sunnydale

City: Dhaka

Topic: Miranda

"A lot of facts about the heavenly body Miranda is yet to be uncovered from the darkness in which it lies. Unlike all other moons which have been named after Greek and Roman mythological figures, Miranda derives its name from the Shakespearean characters in his play “The Tempest”. As prying literarians still ponder about origins of the name Miranda, ardent astrophiles like me seek to explore the cosmic terrain. In the frosty aphotic dominion of the solar system, prowls a mysterious and a bizarre moon Miranda, orbiting Uranus. Kuiper’s discovery of Miranda did not divulge anything significant about itself until the Voyager zipped past the planet in 1986.

Artist's view of Voyager 2 at Miranda
What I think makes the moon extraordinary and intriguing, is its uncommon surface. It has been often regarded as Frankenstein’s monster due to its crusty rigid structure with dents all over its body. We could view just a part of the moon due to the tragic blowout of the voyager; yet the few images taken by the voyager intrigued scientists ever since. Just by looking at the southern hemisphere we have observed an unforeseen landscape. The root of the formation of the distinguished features – coronae, are still obscure to scientists due to images being the only evidence; it is hard to conclude - ‘How did these features form?’ This led to the proposal of different theories by scientists; one such belief is that cyclopean collisions or any catastrophic bang led to its deformed shape. However, according to planetary scientists Noah Hammond and Amy Barr, these coronae may have appeared due to the upsurging of partially melted ice, but all these hypotheses on the coronae remain an enigma. Moreover, Miranda has an unusual orbital inclination of 4.34° which is ten times larger than other satellites. There might be traces of CH4, NH3, CO, N2, but we have to explore Miranda to verify it. It is also a mystery to scientists how Miranda had an internal heating system despite its relatively small size.

As the Voyager 2 was the only spacecraft to reach the Uranian system, there lies the huge potential of discoveries that could enlighten the human race. If someday, space explorers tried reaching Miranda, they might see the Verona Rupes, the largest known cliff in the solar system; which is substantially bigger than the Grand Canyon of the Earth. The northern hemisphere which is yet untouched by us may reveal more intriguing aspects of the moon. We might be able to analyse the land texture and might find reserves of unique rocks; we might understand why it has a tilted orbit or the evidence of its geological activities. There remain endless possible endings to the mystery of the Miranda, but only exploring this cryptic innate satellite can guide us to the last piece of the puzzle. Finally, I believe if NASA contemplates future expedition to explore this little-known celestial-orb, we might be lucky enough to unwind the most profound riddles of the wonderful body - Miranda."

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