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Miranda is the planet Uranus' smallest moon.

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Miranda is the innermost of Uranus' major moons. Miranda was discovered by Gerard Kuiper on 1948-02-16 at McDonald Observatory. Miranda is named after Prospero's daughter in William Shakespeare's play The Tempest. Miranda is also designated Uranus V.

Miranda Uranus Moon.
Miranda Moon.
Discovered by Gerard P. Kuiper
Discovered in February 16, 1948
Orbital characteristics of Miranda Moon.
Semi-major axis 129,390 km
Mean radius 129,872 km
eccentricity 0.0013
Orbital period 1.413479 d
inclination 4.232º (to Uranus' equator)
Is a Satellite of Uranus
Physical characteristics of Miranda Moon.
Mean diameter 471.6 km
(480468.4465.8 km)

(0.03697 Earths)

Surface area 2,790,000 km2
Volume 54,835,000 km3
mass 6.591019 kg

(1.10310-5 Earths)

Mean density 1.20 g/cm3
Surface gravity 0.079 m/s2
escape velocity 0.19 km/s
rotation period synchronous
axial tilt zero
Albedo 0.32
Surface temp.
 ? K ~59 K 86 K
Atmospheric pressure of Miranda Moon. 0 kPa

So far the only close-up images of Miranda are from the Voyager 2 probe, which made observations of the moon during its Uranus flyby in January, 1986. During the flyby the southern hemisphere of the moon was pointed towards the Sun so only that part was studied. It is geologically the most active body in the Uranus system.

Physical characteristics of Uranus moon Miranda.

Miranda at 20 km.
Close-up view of Verona Rupes, a large fault scarp on Miranda; at 20 km high, it is one of the highest cliffs in the solar system.

Miranda's surface may be mostly water ice, with the low density body being made of silicate rock and organic compounds. Miranda's surface has patchwork regions of broken terrain indicating intense geological activity in the moon's past, and is criss-crossed by huge canyons.

Large grooved structures, called coronae, may be diapirs, or upwellings of warm ice. They may have changed the density distribution within the moon, which in turn has caused the Miranda to reorient itself, an event similar to what is believed to have occurred on Saturn's geologically active moon Enceladus. It is thought that this activity was powered by tidal forces from Uranus, possibly due to past resonance with other Uranian moons.

Another theory, now considered less likely, suggests that a previous incarnation of Miranda was struck by a massive object that shattered the moon soon after its formation. Fragments then resettled into different positions forming the current strange pattern.

Miranda's orbital inclination (4.34º) is unusually high for a body so close to the planet. At some time in the past, it is possible that it was in a 3:1 orbital resonance with Umbriel. Resulting tidal friction may also have caused warming within the moon and thus be the culprit of the geological activity.

Scientists recognize the following geological features on Miranda:

  • Craters.
  • Coronae (large ovoid features).
  • Regiones (geological regions).
  • Rupes (scarps).
  • Sulci (parallel grooves).

Trivia about Miranda.

  • Astronomy Domine, a song by Pink Floyd, refers to Miranda as well as Oberon and Titania.

Why not also search for...

  • List of geological features on Miranda.

Further reading about the solar system.
The Sun Mercury Venus Earth Mars Ceres Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto Eris
Planets Dwarf planets Moons: Terran Martian Asteroidal Jovian Saturnian Uranian Neptunian Plutonian Eridian
Small bodies:   Meteorites Asteroids (Asteroid belt) Centaurs TNOs (Kuiper belt/Scattered disc) Comets (Oort cloud)
Solar system related pages. astronomical objects and the solar system's list of solar system objects.

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