Aylin Akınal and Roy Erzurumluoğlu

Aylin Akınal and Roy Erzurumluoğlu

Grade: 11 and 12

School: Eyüboğlu Koleji

Teacher: Burcu Parmak Yıldırım

Topic: Charon


"In Greek mythology, Charon is the mysterious ferryman of Hades, a figure that no one knows much about. And Pluto’s moon Charon is just as mysterious as the mythical figure it was named after. In our essay, we will discuss why we think Charon will be the best destination to send a probe to.

Artist's rendering of Charon and New Horizon
Charon is a part of binary dwarf planet system with Pluto both are tidally-locked to each other- and has a heavily cratered, primarily water-ice surface. A huge canyon scars the planets surface and suggests that Charon likely had an undersurface ocean at one point. This ocean is speculated to have frozen and expanded the surface, causing it to crack and cause a titanic geological upheaval in Charons early history, which is a topic that should be looked into to understand more about ocean worlds. Another geologically surprising feature of Charon that has stumped geologists according to Jeff Moore of NASA Ames Research Center in California, is the fact that Charon only has a single mountain in its whole surface. Another interesting feature of Charon is its Red Spot in its Northern Hemisphere, which is caused by Plutos atmosphere raining on Charon and freezing there. The intriguing part, however, is the fact that ultraviolet light from the sun causes the trapped methane to transform into heavier hydrocarbons and then into a reddish organic material known as tholins. The fact that organic material can be found so far away from the sun, on a frozen body is most enthralling and a process that should be looked into.

What we aspire to learn is the composition of the water-ice surface, the astrodynamics of the binary dwarf system that is both tidally locked and the process that forms the organic molecules on Charons north pole. We also want to analyze Charon because of its early-era Earth-like crust and its craters, believing it would provide us more information about our planet and whether Charon or Pluto formed earlier. Lastly, an investigation into Charons only mountain on the surface can lead to new discoveries in the field of planetary geology.

We believe that a better scientific understanding of Charon will help us understand the nature of icy celestial bodies better and the lifetime of ocean worlds and transition between the ocean and icy worlds. Also, we would be able to have a better understanding of what Earth’s geological state was like billions of years ago by analyzing seismic data. Furthermore, get an insight into how plate tectonics behave on such celestial bodies. We have the technology to analyze chemical compounds, and seismic activities of an extraterrestrial surface, that was proven in Mars many times, and we believe that technologies such as mass spectrometers and seismometers are able to analyze many subjects stated above. With the acquirement of such knowledge, we will be able to interpret observational data of bodies like Charon with greater accuracy."

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