Shrida Mittal, Ram Patel, and Tuba Ahmed

Shrida Mittal, Ram Patel, and Tuba Ahmed

Grade: 11

School: West Windsor Plainsboro High School South

Teacher: Danielle Bugge

City: West Windsor, New Jersey

Topic: Miranda


"Throughout scientific history, researchers have studied space to gain a better understanding of the processes that occur on Earth. Nevertheless, there are still numerous questions left unanswered due to the lack of exploration accomplished, for example, out of the 200 moons in our solar system we only have a comprehensive understanding of a small handful. In August of 1977, Voyager 2’s flyby of Uranus enabled scientists to capture images and collect data on its moons, one of the most compelling being its innermost moon: Miranda. With the opportunity at hand, after examining our choices we came to the conclusion that the spacecraft should be sent to Miranda. The moon demonstrates unique characteristics that may allow for life and her mysterious topography can yield interesting finds that could expand our understanding of it, as well as other terrestrial bodies back at home. To better understand habitable environments and possibly get information on Uranus’s past, NASA must use its resources towards the study of Miranda.

Artist's rendering of Voyager 2 and Miranda
The “Frankenstein Moon” is famously dubbed for its mysterious topography, one of which scientists have not yet encountered in other terrestrial objects. Its shape is questionable, especially for a moon. It almost seems like a bizarre clutter of random rocks poorly merged into one large object. However, its deformation is strikingly similar to earth's shape: it is covered in varying landscapes from canyons that are twelve times deeper than our very own Grand Canyon, to undulate patches resembling the pattern of waves we see in our oceans to large patches of disturbed terrain. These unusual appearances spark questions amongst scientists on its past: if there ever was a time where the water, that is now relatively frozen solid, ever moved freely throughout the body. Another interesting feature about Miranda is its three large coronae - in planetary geology coronae are oval-shaped features that are uncommon and signify the movement of warmer material beneath a colder, solid surface. The most popular belief of how these coronae came to form is that Uranus’s gravitational pull is strong enough to distort Miranda’s core leading the innards to churn, much like Earth's core does. Overall, the parallels between Earth and Miranda are shocking enough to be of interest, on top of that, Miranda’s mysteries also stand above those of other planets, it would only be a logical decision to spend time deciphering the anomaly that is Miranda.

To support this hypothesis, along with simply studying such a particular subject of planetary formation is beneficial to our understanding of the things beyond our atmosphere. By doing so we can create yet another template for new explorations and discoveries that may resemble Miranda, creating not only a pattern but also possibly creating a whole new subsection to our scope of terrestrial bodies. Think about it, there is little downside to our proposal: the research gained on an object that researchers declare “peculiar” and “unknown” can and will only enlarge our knowledge and further advance us into the possible depths and mysteries of space."

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