Teacher: Mr. Javed
School: Hymers College
I hope to persuade you to return to Ariel when we next take a radioisotope powered spacecraft to the explore the harshest, darkest and coldest part of the solar system. It has been 35 years since Voyage 2 took images of the Uranian system, unlike our moon Ariel is geologically active, so it could have changed a lot in the recent years.
Of the five major moons (out of the 27 total) a close-up study of Ariel’s atmospheres, surfaces and environment would be thrilling because it is volcanically active, least cratered and has the brightest surface. These features raise a number of questions for us scientists.
Geologically Ariel is fascinating, with the fewest craters it is described as the youngest of the moons. It has moving tectonic plates and therefore perhaps earthquakes. In addition, it would be interesting to observe how the volcanic flows behave at -213°C. Does the molten rock stay in liquid form or turn into rocks as soon as it erupts?
Ariel consists of half water ice and half silicate rock, the surface temperature rises and falls quickly with the coming and going of sunlight, without a thermal inertia lag. It would be interesting to find out why.
Ariel also has the brightest surface, I hope we could find out what appears to make Ariel glow, it could be a new element or even some form of life, after all there is heat, water ice and carbon dioxide.
Finally, Ariel is about 20 times the distance from the Sun compared to Earth and has about 1/400 the intensity of light. So, while we are scouting Ariel, let’s see if it would be a good location to build an observatory. Being this far out in the solar system you could see much clearer into the Milky Way.