Neyko Neikov

Year: 2019-20

Neyko Neikov

School: Hristo Botev Secondary School

Grade: 11

City: Svilengrad

Teacher: Aleksiya Lilyanova

Topic: Charon

"Charon is one of the five known natural satellites of the dwarf planet Pluto. It’s also the biggest one. In my opinion it’s one cosmic object that is worth exploring. Mainly because it so close to Pluto and setting an explorations centre on Pluto would be easier than setting one on let say Uranus.

Charon’s structure is mostly made out of ice and rocks. And most of that ice is water ice meaning it can be melted and transformed into water which is a valuable resource.

Water in it is liquid form is not common in space and is hard to transport with spacecrafts because of its mass and volume. Water is needed for astronauts for example and not only that I mean its water; it can be used for many things.

Artist's view of New Horizon and Charon
Then there is Pluto again with its atmosphere which is mostly made out of methane and nitrogen, again very valuable resources. They can be used to produce energy which would certainly come in handy because the Sun is so far away and solar energy will not be viable.

There is also the “Mordor” on Charon’s North Pole which is basically “tholin” build-ups.

The temperature is -258°C in the winter. Methane and other gases which were transferred from Pluto to Charon condense and later take their solid forms when the winter season comes. And when it warms to -213°C later in the seasons cycle, these solids transform into gas again and escape Charon meanwhile reactions occur with the help of solar radiation and these “tholins” are formed. “Tholins” are organic macromolecules made out of methane and nitrogen. In the presence of water, “tholins” can be raw materials for prebiotic Chemistry, the non-living Chemistry that forms the basic chemicals which form the life. Their existence has implications for the origins of life on Earth, and possibly on other planets. As particles in an atmosphere, “tholins” scatter light, and can affect habitability.

You should have seen what some of the problems are by now. The most obvious is the temperature. It would be hard for anything be it humans or regular robots to work in that kind of environment. They would simply freeze. On the other hand I think nanorobots may be useful because they can work in extreme situations.

I think science would benefit a lot from exploring Charon. Even more if an exploration centre be built on Pluto, it will allow us for further missions in far space.

Maybe we would discover other forms of intellectual life on the other side of Charon or other planets. Even if that is not the case we definitely found interesting things there, we would find answers on how we came to be. That may sound impossible, but I think it will happen in the near future."

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