Shristhi Bickram

Contest: 2019-20

Shristhi Bickram

School: Parktown High School for Girls

Teacher: Ms N Govender

Grade: 9

City: Johannesburg

Topic: Miranda

"Strange, mysterious, cosmic… these words aren’t sufficient to describe The Solar System. This infinite body is bursting with secrets. We’ve sent a countless number of space crafts to unravel these secrets. These space crafts have only sent back snippets of information, but sufficient enough to fuel people’s curiosity - mine included. One celestial body in particular has caught my attention – Mystical Miranda.

Miranda, one of Uranus’s 27 moons, is unique. Unlike any other moon it has varied and weird landscapes. Coronae, collections of valleys and ridges, decorate the surface. Miranda is believed to have been shattered to pieces and reassembled several times and is apparently made up from debris. This explains its ‘’Frankenstein’’ - like appearance. Huge canyons (12x deeper than the Grand Canyon) scatter the surface. All of these features are interesting but imagine what else could be discovered…

Firstly, I would send the space craft to explore the vast canyons. I think that tectonic/seismic activity could be the main cause of the formation of these canyons. The spacecraft would contain a seismograph to record any possible activity and see how frequently it occurs. Considering the depth of the canyons and the presence of ice on the moon, I believe there may be inactive volcanoes or even springs. I hypothesise that no life would be found here, as Miranda receives a minimal amount of sunlight and oxygen. These components are necessary for life to thrive.

Seeing that the closest Voyager 2 managed to get to Miranda was 29000km, it only captured the southern side. The space craft I would send would not only orbit the moon, but also explore it in its entirety in order to create a clearer picture. It would be equipped with multiple HD telescopes and cameras to get an accurate understanding of its distinctive landscape and shape.

A robotic arm/spade would be installed to collect samples of the rock and ice on the surface. This will provide valuable information on the formation of Miranda and prove whether the moon really is made up of debris. To further the accuracy a gravimeter would be used to determine the gravitational pull and might explain the ever- changing state of the internal contents.

Miranda appears to be in a state of magical sleep and similar to Miranda in The Tempest, by Shakespeare, needs to be probed further to unravel the mystifying puzzle pieces to make mission impossible… POSSIBLE!"

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