Miranda is a moon of the planet Uranus. It is the smallest and innermost of Uranus's five major moons. It is sometimes called "Uranus V".
The first pictures of this moon from a spacecraft were taken on January 24, 1986, when Voyager 2 passed by the planet. Only the southern half of Miranda has been viewed in detail, and the rest of the moon has yet to be seen.
How big is Miranda?
This moon has a diameter of only 472 km. This is slightly smaller than the asteroid Vesta, which is the second biggest object in the asteroid belt. Miranda would easily fit within the borders of the state of Arizona.
What is its surface like?
The surface of Miranda seems to be made almost entirely of ice. There are huge, deep canyons, some reaching over 19 km (12 mi) deep, and a lot of rugged ground, with some large, strange parallel grooves in parts the surface. There are also some craters on Miranda. This moon does not have any atmosphere and it is bitterly cold.
How long is a day on Miranda?
This moon takes the same time to orbit Uranus as it does to rotate around its axis. This means that it has become tidally locked. The gravity from Uranus has caused it to gradually slow its rotation until now it always keeps the same face toward the planet. The length of one orbit, and the length of a day on Miranda, is 1.41 days, or about 1 day and just under 10 hours.
What is it made of?
This moon is made of frozen stuff such as water ice, and it has a core of rock on the interior.
How much would Miranda's gravity pull on me?
Newtons describe how hard gravity is pulling you down. On Earth, if you weigh 51 kilograms or 112 pounds, your weight is 500 newtons. We only use newtons for some special purposes, when we are really interested in how hard we push down on something because gravity is pulling us.
Your weight in newtons would be less on Miranda, only about 1/124 of what it is on Earth. To find your weight in newtons as you stand on Miranda, just take your weight on Earth, and if that weight is in kilograms, multiply it by 0.079. Iff that weight is in pounds, divide it by 28 to get newtons. But then you'll have to add in the weight of your spacesuit as well, because that is pressing down on the surface just like you are.
Who is it named after?
The English bard William Shakespeare wrote a play called "The Tempest". In this play there is a sorcerer named Prospero who has a daughter called Miranda. Both the sorcerer and his daughter were stranded on an island for twelve years in the Adriatic sea.
The name of Shakespeare's character Miranda comes from the Latin root "mira", which means "to wonder". In the play the daughter is often called "a wonder".
How was it discovered?
This moon was discovered by the astronomer Gerard Kuiper, who was born and educated in Holland, but later came to the United States. He found this moon on February 16, 1948. He also found Neptune's moon Neried just over a year later.