School: Frank R. Conwell, Middle School #4
Teacher: Yesenia Jimenez
City: Jersey City, New Jersey
The time has come for the ice giants to be put in the spotlight. Uranus is the most intriguing planet and has many interesting moons, of which five are prominent. Each moon has its specialty; however, Ariel is one to have caught my eye and deserves a closer look. There has been only one close encounter with Ariel in 1986 by Voyager 2. After being in isolation for about 35 years, could there be something hidden that may change our perspective of outer space?
Based on these observations, is Ariel hiding a subsurface ocean under its thick, icy layer? Could there be enough tidal or radiogenic heating that might support the existence of an ocean and life? Recent studies reveal that microorganisms called extremophiles can survive harsh temperatures like: under glaciers, ice sheets, and deep ocean vents through a process called chemosynthesis, which doesn’t require sunlight to produce energy. Could astrobiologists uncover new survival conditions unknown to Earth? Is the brightness of Ariel caused by more freshwater ice on the surface? Is the other side of Ariel more active and spewing water ice? The only way to unravel these unknown mysteries is to return!