Matthew Chen

Year: 2019-20

Matthew Chen

School: Crosby Heights Public School

Teacher: Tanusree Das

City: Richmond Hill, Ontario

Topic: Charon

"A big, black void. Miles of emptiness, planets and moons. The solar system the human civilization resides in is vast, with many fascinating interstellar bodies orbiting the sun. Many of the major planets have smaller objects orbiting them, called moons. Moons are as interesting as planets and many have unusual features that humans have yet to understand. Charon, the largest of the 5 moons of Pluto, would be the most intriguing moon to explore because of a number of reasons: the relationship it has with Pluto; its position from the sun; and its unique elemental composition.

One reason to explore Charon is because it is billions of kilometers from the sun. Sunlight takes a long time to reach Pluto and Charon, and there isn’t very much of it. Including frequent blackouts, all of these factors contribute to a remarkably hostile environment that can get up to -250 degrees Celsius. The tempestuous coldness causes Charon to have an icy sheen that reflects about 75% of the sunlight that hits it. On Earth, with climate change being such a big problem, humans could study the sheen of Charon and replicate it to reflect some sunlight off Earth, slowing down climate change and creating a cool, lively world for the future where young leaders can pave the way for new frontiers.

Artist's view of New Horizon and Charon
​Pluto is a dwarf planet, so it is considerably smaller than the major planets. Because of this size difference, Charon is nearly half the size of Pluto, which is massive for a moon relative to its host planet. Unlike other planet-moon systems where the moon follows the planet, the Pluto and Charon relationship is the complete opposite. Because Charon is monumental compared to Pluto, it affects Pluto. Charon tugs at Pluto, making Pluto tilt, but Pluto tugs back. This causes both Pluto and Charon to orbit a third point, called the barycenter. Humans can build advanced space infrastructure with different planetary systems. Imagine a connected, virtual world where many are thriving in a great economy, and ground-breaking discoveries from all over the cosmos are shared.
Out in the universe, many unique and unlikely elements linger. Charon is a very exclusive moon with extraordinary, everlasting externals like no other. Unlike most moons with solid-rock exteriors and/or geological active geysers and volcanoes, Charon is made of ice. Ice makes up 90% of Charon’s mass and the remaining 10% belongs to a small, rocky core. The ice of Charon is mostly nitrogen and methane ice, with a small amount of water ice. These elements could hold powers never thought possible, such as a cure for a disease, or anti-radioactive waves that humans could wield to their advantage.

In conclusion, Charon would be the most fascinating moon in the solar system to explore because of many reasons: its distance from the sun; its system with Pluto; and its elemental properties. Doesn't everyone want a safer, healthier world for future generations to thrive in? Charon is not just a moon, but the key to endless possibilities."

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