2020-21 Australia Winners, Grade 9-12 - Topic: Oberon
School: Cranebrook High School
Out of all of Uranus’ moons, I believe that we should visit Oberon, the farthest moon from the planet, at 582’620 kilometres away from Uranus’ core.
First discovered in 1787 by astronomer William Herschel, Oberon is the second largest of twenty-seven of Uranus’ moons and the ninth largest in our solar system. It’s thought to have first been an accretion disc that surrounded a newly-formed Uranus but eventually became a moon millions of years ago, meaning visiting again could give us further insight into the formation of Uranus. Oberon is composed mainly of half rock, half ice, and is the most heavily cratered of its moons. Some of Oberon’s notable geographical features are Hamlet, a large crater with a diameter of 206 kilometres, and Mommur Chasma, one of Oberon’s largest canyons. Although Voyager 2 was close enough to take an image of one side of the moon, only 25% of the surface was captured in high enough resolution to be geographically mapped.
An unknown black substance lies at the floor of many of the craters, although scientists have hypothesised that it may be a result of cryovolcanic activity (water, ammonia or methane instead of lava) or dark rock that had been uncovered by impacts with other objects. If astronauts or a machine were able to collect a sample of the material, we’d be able to properly identify it and find if it has any unique properties.
With the little knowledge we have of Oberon, I believe visiting it again would solve many of the unanswered questions we have about it.