Miranda, as you might have guessed from the tittle of the article, is one of Uranus’s moons. It’s a weird little moon, sort of like the strangest sister in an already odd family. Miranda (the moon) was named after Miranda, the daughter of Prospero in “The Tempest,” a play by William Shakespeare. In the play, she stays single throughout the entirety of the play and is entirely obedient to Prospero. Apparently, Uranus’s moons are named after characters from Shakespeare’s plays and Alexander Pope’s “Rape of the Lock.”
Miranda was discovered by telescopic photos of the Uranian system by Gerard P. Kuiper in 1948. It was apparently the last moon of Uranus that was discovered prior to the Voyager 2’s visit, 38 years after it was discovered. Also before Voyager 2’s visit, Miranda was the smallest and closest planet to Uranus.
According to its looks, it seems as if it did not form properly. It’s only about 500 kilometers, which is about a seventh of Earth’s moon, which itself is about a fourth of Earth’s size.
Miranda’s terrain is most unusual compared to all the other bodies in the Solar System. Before Voyager 2 passed by, scientists thought that Miranda would have barely any signs of internal activity, like Callisto, another of Uranus’s moons. When the pictures came back from the probe, they learned just how wrong they were. Miranda had so many strange features that it seemed like a child’s crude attempt at trying to fit together two different jigsaw puzzles that didn’t match . There were canyons, cliffs, rifts, plains, all of them clashing together on one small moon.
The leading theory as to how Miranda came to look is that it was shattered to pieces multiple times and then put together again, continually barged by asteroids in the process. Another theory is that the surface might have been scarred by the melting and freezing of ice. Which one it is stays up for debate.
Another fun fact about Miranda is that because of its small size it also has a small gravitational pull. If you don’t think that’s interesting, then consider the fact that along with the low gravity, Miranda also has ridiculously large canyons. Both of these make it so that if a rock was thrown from the tallest canyon on Miranda, it would take a little over 10 minutes to reach the bottom.
At the end of the day, Miranda, with all of its features and peculiarities, makes for one interesting moon in a Solar System that’s already, by far, very strange.