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Miranda is the planet Uranus' smallest moon.
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.
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'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:
Trivia about Miranda.
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