Adhithi Arun

Adhithi Arun

Grade: 7

School: Frank R. Conwell, Middle School #4

Teacher: Yesenia Jimenez

City: Jersey City, New Jersey

Topic: Ariel

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?

Ariel is believed to be composed of half rock and half ice. It’s the brightest and youngest moon of Uranus. Ariel’s complex surface consists of interconnected rift valleys that stretch across for miles with great depths. These valleys have ridges that are believed to be formed from ice in the interior, showing cryovolcanic and tectonic activities. With recent discoveries from Enceladus and Europa, these geological activities suggest the presence of a subsurface ocean. Ariel also shows strong evidence for carbon dioxide, which possibly could’ve been released to the surface from the primordial CO2 trapped by water ice in its interior.

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!

You Might Also Like