School: The Sage School
Teacher: Aimee Gaumond Davies
City: Foxboro, Massachusetts
When Voyager 2 flew by Uranus, it prompted more questions than answers about the atmosphere and history of the planet’s moons. Ariel is the best moon to revisit because its smaller, less-cratered surface and recent geological activity would allow scientists to learn more about this unique moon and its home planet.
These moons were active early in their history, but Ariel’s recent geologic movements make it easier to study because it can tell us about the early history of the universe and recent activities. Scientists Torrence Johnson, Robert Brown, and Laurence Soderblom discovered that “Ariel's history is reminiscent of Titania's, except that the geologic activity on Ariel was more intense, more extensive and more prolonged.” Of the three moons, Oberon has the least geological phenomena, and Ariel has more than Titania. Because Ariel has both older craters and newly-formed fault lines, we can learn about its bombardment and Uranus’s history from 4 billion years ago up to the recent past. Ultimately, these moons raise several questions, but Ariel’s long timeline of geological activity and smooth surface will help scientists uncover the many mysteries surrounding the formation of the moon itself.