Miranda was discovered by the Dutch astronomer Gerard Kuiper on 16 February 1948. It was the first of Uranus’ moons to be discovered in close to 100 years. Miranda looks like made of different pieces that’s why it’s also called Frankenstein Moon.
Interesting Miranda Facts
- Miranda was discovered by Gerard Kuiper in 1948.
- It has been named after a character from Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest.
- It has a diameter of 470 km.
- Miranda is 129,000 km away from Uranus.
- It is the closest of the 5 major satellites of Uranus.
- It is highly irregular in shape.
- It has a dirty grey appearance.
- The surface of Miranda is believed to be quite young, about 100 million years old.
- It has a heavily cratered surface.
- It is the least dense moon of Uranus.
- Nearly 60% of Miranda is composed of water ice.
- It does not have any magnetic field.
- It is not known to have an atmosphere.
- It has been observed by the space craft, Voyager 2.
- Miranda is an element of pop culture. It is also a well-used first name on earth.
The moon, Miranda was discovered by the Dutch astronomer Gerard Kuiper on 16 February 1948. It was the first of Uranus‘ moons to be discovered in close to 100 years. He made the discovery at the McDonald Observatory. He used an 82-inch telescope called the Otto Struve Telescope.
Gerard Kuiper named the moon Miranda after a character from William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. All of the previously discovered moons of Uranus had been named after characters from plays by Shakespeare or Alexander Pope. Interestingly, all the moons of Uranus discovered in the future were named after characters from the plays of the two writers.
The moon Miranda has a diameter of 470 km. With this diameter, it is one of the smallest observed bodies in the solar system to be in a state of hydrostatic equilibrium that is the state at which the flow velocity of the fluids is constant.
The mass of this moon is 6.59 × 10^19 which makes it just .000011 times the Earth
Miranda is highly irregular in shape. Its general appearance looks like it was made out of pieces that do not go together. It has a dirty grey color. Most Uranus moons have a greyish appearance.
Surface and Composition
When Voyager 2 arrived in the Uranian moon system, it was only able to view the southern hemisphere of Miranda, the reason being Uranus’s near-sideways orientation. The surface that was viewed appears to have patches of broken terrains.
The surface of Miranda is relatively younger than that of other moons, possibly 100 million years old. This suggests the possibility of intense geological activity on the moon in the past.
The surface also has a large number of high canyons. This may be a result of tectonic activity.
Another surface feature on Miranda that is graben may have been caused by the splitting of surface ice due to the expansion of the surface. The expansion may have been caused by liquid water below the surface froze.
The observed canyons on Miranda are quite large, being tens of kilometers wide and hundreds of kilometers long. The cliff Verona Rupes is the largest in the solar system. It has a height of 20 km.
Miranda is the least dense moon of Uranus to have a spherical shape. This suggests that more than 60% of it is composed of water ice. The moon is however rockier than most of Saturn’s moons.
A theory suggests that there may be internal differentiation due to radioactive decay. This may have allowed silicate rocks and other organic material to settle in its interior.
So far, only the presence of water has been confirmed on Miranda but there is a possibility of the presence of other materials such as ammonia, methane, and carbon dioxide. Many properties of Miranda are quite similar to the Saturnian moon Mimas.
The moon Miranda is not known to have any kind of magnetic field in existence.
Orbit and Rotation
Miranda is closest to the planet Uranus out of all the five-round satellites. It is about 129,000 km away from its parent planet.
It takes 34 earth hours to complete one rotation about its own axis and one revolution about the planet. This means that it is tidally locked to the planet i.e. one on the face of the moon is always visible from the planet.
The orbit of Miranda is the most inclined of all the other satellites of Uranus at 4.23°. The reason for this is still unclear.
No layer of the atmosphere has yet been detected on Miranda, the Uranian moon.
Until a few years ago, Miranda had only been observed through telescopes. In 1986, the Voyager 2 satellite from NASA made a flyby of the moon and provided virtually all information that we currently have about the moon.
The closest that the spacecraft went to the moon was approximately 29,000 km. Miranda has been found to have the most visible surface of all the other moons of Uranus. However, even after the flyby, scientists were unable to determine the reason behind this.
No spacecraft has ever been able to land on the surface of the moon as yet. It has obviously also never been visited by human beings due to obvious reasons of extreme temperature and pressure conditions.
However, scientists are making continuous efforts to explore the moons of different planets in more detail.
Potential for Life
No evidence of life has ever been found on Miranda. This is due to the extreme temperature and pressure conditions. If any life does exist on the moon, it would be very different from that on the Earth. The possibility of finding life forms elsewhere in the universe can never be ruled out.
People continue to be fascinated by the planets in the solar system as well as their moons. Miranda has been mentioned in several elements of pop culture such as films, television shows, books, video games, etc, either individually, or collectively as a part of the Uranian moon system.
Miranda is a very common first name all over the world mostly made popular as the name of a character in a Shakespearean play.
- 1648: Miranda is discovered by Gerard Kuiper.
- 1986: NASA’s Voyager 2 flies by Miranda at a distance of 29,000 km.