Teacher: Mr. Benec
School: St. Barbara
City: Mississauga, Ontario
Oberon. A miniscule moon in this immense black void we call space. The 144 billion km solar system we call home also hosts hundreds of planets, dwarf planets and moons. One of these moons is Oberon. Although it is just another moon, its composition, size, and what mysteries it might unfold set it apart from the rest. Welcome to the ninth largest moon in our solar system.
Oberon is the second largest Uranian moon. Shakespearean influence is unmissable considering it was discovered by William Herschel in 1787 and named after the king of the fairies in Shakespeare’s, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Like most of Uranus’s moons it is composed of half ice and half rock. Heavily cratered, its craters are primarily shaped by asteroid impacts. Its largest crater, Hamlet’s diameters range up to 206 km.
Oberon’s orbital period is about 13.5 Earth days. It strangely spends most of its orbit outside the Uranian magnetosphere. As a result, its surface is directly struck by the solar wind. This is important, because the trailing hemispheres of satellites orbiting inside a magnetosphere are struck by the magnetospheric plasma, which co-rotates with the planet. This bombardment may lead to the darkening of the trailing hemispheres, which is observed for all Uranian moons except Oberon. A layer of liquid water may exist between the mantle and core, indicating presence of life. NASA’s water testing kit will be able to test the water for any bacteria or signs of life.
We know so much about Oberon and yet so little. Is there life on it? Maybe. Will we ever land on it? Sure. This moon should definitely be in the orbit of exploration. And who knows, someday there may be someone writing their essay from Oberon.