2020-21 Australia Winner, Grade 5-6 - Topic: Oberon
It glows eerily red... suspended in outer space 582,600 kilometres away from the planet Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun in our solar system. Oberon was first discovered in 1787 on January 11th, by a British astronomer named William Herschel. Interestingly, it was discovered on the same day as Titania (Uranus’ largest moon) and Oberon is the second largest moon belonging to Uranus. I am passionate about sending a robotic spacecraft to Oberon for many reasons. Firstly, using the latest digital technology and photographic abilities, I would like to take many more images of a moon that is made up of a unique combination of roughly half ice and half rock. There are currently so few images of this fascinating moon available, and it would be incredible to capture some photos of the moon emitting its red glow.
Scientists currently hypothesise that the reddish material results from infalling dust and has only been observed in the Southern Hemisphere of the moon. I would like to explore these dust patterns further, and study how they contribute to giving this moon its reddish glow. So far, astronomers have discovered at least one large mountain on Oberon that rises 6 kilometres off the surface. I wish to investigate whether other mountains exist on Oberon by using this robotic spacecraft. With Oberon being a moon that is heavily cratered, I would aim to map out the craters that cover Oberon’s surface. Furthermore, while scientists know the composition of Oberon is roughly made up of approximately half ice and half rock, I would explore whether other matter contributes to its composition and what the atmospheric conditions are that surrounds this fascinating moon. Finally, I hope these discoveries would help contribute to the greater understanding of planets and moons within our solar system.