Alishba Rahil Butt

Alishba Rahil Butt

Grade: 12

School: Pristine Private School

City: Dubai

Topic: Charon

The largest one of the five satellites of Pluto, Charon, discovered in 1978 at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. by astronomer James Christy. The name Charon came from the inspiration of a mythological ferryman who was familiar with transferring souls across Acheron, a mythical river, which was one of the five that has encircled Pluto's underworld. In addition to that, the name was also based on Christy’s wife’s name Charlene. Personally, I would want to invest my time in studying further about Charon, considering its truly exotic landscape covered with mountains, canyons, landslides, surface-color variations and more.

Having half the diameter of Pluto, and one eighth of its mass, Charon is quite colossal in comparison to its parent body. With its gravitational influence formed in such a way that the barycenter reposes outside of the plutonian system such that it appears to be tidally sealed together as they orbit. Astonishingly, wouldn’t want to learn more about it?

Artist's view of New Horizon and Charon
​ One of the reasons why Charon seems so intriguing is due to its remarkable and foreign topography starting from its rusty brown center of north pole to its gray body with fractures. The brown center is presumed to be composed of tholins, which were manufactured from methane, nitrogen and related gases liberated from the atmosphere of Pluto along with organic macromolecules that may be vital additives of life. The methane gas flees from Pluto's atmosphere and becomes trapped due to the satellite's gravitational field which leads to it freezing the surface of the moon (at the pole). With the aid of the UV light radiated by the sun, it provokes a chemical process which transmutes the methane into heftier hydrocarbons and then gradually into tholins. Nonetheless, methane’s coating as frost was least anticipated on Charon due to its lower gravity which could permit the gas to escape over time. According to scientists, the domains in which minute fractures prevail on the surfaces of icy moons are where extraterrestrial life is more likely to occur. For instance, Charon, Europa and Enceladus are severely cold and far away from the sun, hence, the dependent variables would include an energy source as well as basic elements of life such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus for the emergence and prolongation of life.

On the contrary, it is unclear that on Charon there might have been a potential ocean that may have harbored these elements or was present for sufficient time to lead to establishment of life.

Thus, in regard to the information share, sending an aircraft on Charon would turn out to be a brilliant notion as we could endeavor searching for the fractures and peering for the water to get liquified. Therefore, making the moon ten times more fascinating. Summing up, unless we send an aircraft on Charon we will forever be unsure of this hypothesis."

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