Sputnik Miranda: Frankenstein of the Solar System
From the school course of astronomy, perhaps, eachliterate people approximately imagine the structure of the solar system. It consists of four planets, corresponding to the terrestrial type, the same number of gas giants and an asteroid belt - a kind of boundary that encompasses the entire system. Two planets, Saturn and Uranus, have rings. And the latter one of the most interesting components of the ring can be considered a satellite Miranda. There is no longer such an unusual cosmic body in our native system.
The largest satellites of Uranus: Maranda and others
At the moment the planet holds almost thirty moons. Astronomers suspect that in fact there are more of them, but so far no new discoveries have been made in this area.
The largest satellites in Uranus are five. The two largest were discovered by the scientist Herschel together with the discovery of the planet itself, and it happened in 1851. The first was named Oberon. Its orbit is most remote from the mother planet, and it itself has a diameter of 1530 km. A distinctive feature is the abundance of craters, the largest of which exceeds 200 m across. The second satellite discovered by the astronomer was named Titania. It is even larger - 1600 km, but carries less craters, replaced in its case by a grid of valleys and canyons.
Two other large satellites were "found"astronomer Lassell in 1851. One of them - Umbriel - is the darkest of the entire satellite ring, the second - Ariel - the lightest. It is also believed to have the youngest age among all moons.
And the last is Miranda, a satellite discoveredafter all, in 1948, by Gerard Koiper. Thanks to the Voyager 2 probe and the information obtained in 1986 from him, this moon has been studied better than the others, which make up the ring around Uranus.
A few words about the names of the moons
Not everyone knows what "Miranda" is. The satellite is named after Shakespeare's heroine from the play "The Storm". It is interesting that all other moons are also called lovers of the English bard. For example, Titania and Oberon - the characters of the work "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
The satellite Miranda can be called unique in several directions.
- This is the moon closest to Uranus.
- Of all the significant in terms of satellite size, Miranda is the smallest - in diameter it reaches only 480 km.
- This moon has the largest angle of inclination of the orbit with respect to the equator.
- According to calculations of astronomers, Miranda is not less than fivetime for its history radically changed its appearance. And this does not mean that new craters appeared or destroyed the uplands, its outlines each time acquired new features at least 70 percent.
- Miranda is a satellite that regularly experiences a change of seasons. True, the period during which the "weather" does not change is as much as 42 years.
All these features give scientists hope for unexpected and inspiring discoveries in the future.
But most of all Miranda, a satellite of Uranus, amazesits uneven surface. In scientific circles, the moon is compared with the monster of Frankenstein. Astronomers claim that all the geological forms found on the satellite have been found, which were only found on the solid cosmic bodies of the solar system. The object of such a small size, according to scientists, should have a more uniform form. The chaotic contours that the Miranda satellite has, put researchers at a dead end. The highest peak of this moon reaches 15 kilometers. The curious have calculated that, taking into account the force of attraction on Miranda, from its top it will be necessary to fall almost a quarter of an hour.
Thanks to "Voyager", on the surface of the satellite were found as many as three of the highest crowns.
- Arden - placed on the hemisphere, called the lead.
- Elsinore, who grew up in the hemisphere, recognized as a slave.
- Inverness, located in the southern hemisphere.
But even without these mountain peaks, the surface is speckledsignificant high-level irregularities. Huge plains are torn apart by the deepest faults. In general, the satellite resembles a pile of giant debris gathered together.
Physical and geological characteristics
Accurate information on what constitutes the satelliteMiranda, for the time being there are no astronomers. Visual observations taken from the Voyager allow one to assume that the surface of the moon basically consists of ordinary ice, which includes a series of compounds of carbonates with silicates. Apparently, there is a small percentage of ammonia. In the years when the "winter" reigns on the part of the moon's surface, the temperature in this area drops to 213 below zero - to cosmic cold it remains very little.
Theories of the formation of Miranda
Most of the efforts of astronomers apply to unraveling the quaint geology of the moon. At the moment there are two hypotheses.
The first says that the satellite Miranda in the distantThe past was confronted with a massive cosmic body, whose weight was several times greater than its own. Most likely, the destructive object also had a decent speed. This attack literally carried the moon to pieces. But under the influence of the forces of gravity, Miranda, after millions of years, managed to merge into one, albeit with the preservation of the chaotic forms. Smaller particles not attracted by the restored moon entered the rings of Uranus.
Supporters of the alternative theory believe thatThe ugliness of the satellite is caused by its internal processes. The stable impact of the huge planet on the moon led to the fact that its core began to bask and rotate. However, the subsoil warms extremely unevenly, which causes a semblance of geological activity and as a consequence - the appearance of pronounced surface deformations.