Hanyoung (Michael) Jung

Hanyoung (Michael) Jung

City: Seoul

Topic: Oberon

Oberon is the second-largest moon of Uranus. William Herschel discovered it in 1787. It is named by John Herschel, a character in William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Oberon, out of the three moons of Uranus: Ariel, Oberon, and Titania is the best place to return with another spacecraft because it may be possible that life could be supported.

Oberon rotates synchronously with its orbital period, keeping the same hemisphere toward the planet and the same hemisphere forward in its orbit. With a distance of about 584,000 km, it is located at the farthest from the planet among the five major moons.


With its density of 1.63 g/cm3, Oberon is predicted to consist of roughly equal proportions of water ice and a dense non-ice component. A non-ice component is hypothesized to be made of rock and carbonaceous material, including heavy organic compounds. Spectroscopic observations revealing crystalline water ice support the presence of water ice. There is asymmetry of water ice absorption bands, a range of wavelengths, frequencies, or energies in the electromagnetic spectrum. The cause is unknown yet, but some point to impact gardening, the creation of soil from impacts. These characteristics point to the possibility that life may be supported in Oberon. The existence of water, heavy organic compounds, and carbonaceous material could lead to the birth of life, and that is not to leave out planting by the moon, creating more moisture in the soil, encouraging growth. With the asymmetry, it is hard to suggest the entire moon may be viable for life, but some portions of the moon suggests the possibility.

Additionally, if the ice contains enough ammonia or other antifreeze, a liquid ocean layer at the core-mantle boundary may exist. The thickness, should it exist, is up to 40 km. This feature suggest another reason to travel to Oberon, as this is something that should be confirmed and should it be confirmed, it is a remarkable attribute for a moon.

The presence of water, organic compounds, possibility to ocean layer, ammonia or salt, and the possible formation of canyon-like graben, a depressed block of the crust of a planet or moon, is an exciting attraction to study. However, the knowledge of evolution of Oberon is very limited and Oberon offers more the reason to travel, explore and study. Voyager 2 was able to approach to Oberon 470,600km and the images cover roughly 40% of the surface but only 25% of the surface was imaged. No other spacecraft ever visited the Uranian system and with the reasons that there are characteristics that support the life, Oberon is selected as the most attractive option to travel and explore.

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