Andrei Iustin Zavoeanu
School: Eugen Barbu Middle School
Although it was discovered in 1787 by William Herschel, the first pictures of Oberon were taken after 200 years, in 1986, when Voyager 2 passed Uranus.
Characterized by craters and canyons, Oberon deserves to be studied “deeply”. Astronomers are already searching for subterranean oceans on this satellite which could host alien life, and scientists calculated the strength of the Uranian magnetic field and its impact on the hidden oceans. If there are any oceans of liquid water under the ice crust, then colonies of very simple organisms may form near the hot thermal points at the bottom of the sea. Is there a better reason why we should explore Oberon?
The study would start by establishing a thermal record in order to gather information about the internal structure. Its high density shows that there exist equal amounts of ice and rock, and if the ice contained enough ammonia/antifreeze, Oberon would have an aquatic liquid layer between the core and the mantle.
The satellite presents evidence of cryovolcanism, which generates methane – the greenhouse gas which heats the atmosphere and which is used in most of the industrial fields.
It is thought that Oberon was formed from a disc of gas and dust that existed around Uranus or from a subnebula, created by the huge impact that led to Uranus’s large axial tilt. So, the satellite would have had rock and frozen water with carbon monoxide and nitrogen in aggregate form. This can be used as an energy resource or in the process of sea water desalination.
Therefore, Oberon deserves to be studied in light of its “treasures”. Although life on it would not be possible, given the future technologies and robots, one can dream of exploiting its natural resources, which would be compressed and exported to Earth.