Oscar Ahebwa

Oscar Ahebwa

Grade: 10

School: Valley View Secondary School

Teacher: Amiza Alli

City: Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement

Topic: Miranda

"Miranda is the fifth largest of Uranus’ five major moons, it is without doubt the most interesting. Miranda was discovered in 1948 by astronomer Gerald Kuiper. It is made of ice with some rocky material closer to its center. Like other moons of Uranus, Miranda orbits close to its planet’s equatorial plane.

Miranda was probably formed from an accretion disc that surrounded the planet shortly after its formation and like other larger moons, it is likely differentiated with an inner core of rock surrounded by a mantle of ice.

Artist's view of Voyager 2 at Miranda
​During Voyager 2’s flyby of the Uranus system in 1986, an image which proved that the surface of Miranda is poked with craters was taken. The image was viewed on 17th March, 2015 and it was proved that humans can find a way to settle the problem of craters on Miranda. For this case sending a robotic spacecraft to Miranda is to investigate on the possible ways of solving the problem of craters on the moon Miranda which could provide a flat terrain on Miranda hence favoring human settlement.

Most astronomers including the NASA’s Voyager 2 and New horizons specialists have concluded that Miranda is a fascinating place to visit but living there would be extremely hard due to various reasons. Miranda being the least dense of Uranus’ round satellites with a density of 1.2gcm-3 and this density suggests a composition of 60% water ice, hence Miranda’s surface may be mostly water ice.

According to scientific observations, since Miranda orbits close to its planet’s equatorial plane and also being too small for any internal heat to have been retained over the age of the solar system, the temperature at Miranda would be increased by the effect of varying forces from Uranus.

However, sending a robotic spacecraft to Miranda could be for investigating whether there is another way of increasing temperature on Miranda perhaps it would melt the ice to form water that would support plant growth on Miranda.

The dominant hypothesis suggests that the formation of geographical features of Miranda were driven by tidal heating during a past time when it was 3:1 orbital resonance with Umbriel and the resonance would have increased Miranda’s orbital eccentricity to 0.1 and generated tidal friction due to varying tidal forces from Uranus, tidal force increased as it retreated, tidal force decreased causing flexibility. Also the force increases as the moon approaches and decreases as it retreats.

If the tidal flexing still exists, the internal temps would increase just enough for melting to lead to the sharp varied features on the icy surface but not enough for the entire ice surface to melt, only the and I think with this, most of the conditions will be favorable for human settlement with time.

Also if clathrate existed with in Miranda, as it has been hypothesized for the satellites of Uranus, it may have acted as an insulator since it has lower conductivity than water hence increasing the temperature of Miranda.

So I feel it is very important to send a robotic spacecraft to Miranda to find out if there is any possibility for clathrate to exist on Miranda such that the temperatures would be increased.

I have emphasized on temperature because, I think after the temperatures have been increased on Miranda, part of rocky areas will undergo physical weathering hence formation of soil. The soil formation may take long but I think it may take a shorter time than it would take on earth because Wikipedia clarifies that one day on Miranda is equivalent to 1.41 days on earth. Implying that day time would take about 34 hours on Miranda which makes soil formation by the action of expansion and contraction faster.

For this case, I would send a robotic spacecraft to Miranda in order to confirm the exact length of a day on Miranda. This would be able to allow humans determine the rate at which weathering could take place in case of temperature increase.

With the formation of soil through weathering, I think plants would be able to grow on Miranda because of the presence of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane and ammonia which would contribute to the growth of plants with the help of artificial fertilizers.

Generally, therefore I would like to send a robotic spacecraft to Miranda in order to investigate the theory on how Miranda’s temperature could be increased because I think after the above has been fulfilled, humans and animals can stay on Miranda for some time because after some years, the plants will be able to excrete enough oxygen for both humans and animals. Besides that, aquatic life could live in the waters of Miranda.

What a nice moon this could be!"

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