Of the five largest satellites of Uranus, Miranda is the smallest and closest to the planet. Its surface is extremely varied in topography - it has faults, valleys, terraces and ridges, creating a complex multicolored pattern visible even from space and probably indicating Miranda's complex composition.
Miranda is small, so its core should have cooled long ago, but its surface is covered by the thickest layer of regolith recorded in the solar system. It could act as a down blanket and keep the possibility of an underground ocean alive until the present day. In addition, the "blanket" would prolong the geological activity on Miranda, which is critical for the development of life.
Researchers from the SETI Institute (USA) have studied the surface of Miranda, paying special attention to impact craters left by collisions of the satellite with other celestial objects. They measured the ratio of the depth and diameter of craters, calculated their number and studied in detail the largest crater, Alonso, whose depth - about 24 kilometers.
The results of the study identified three potential sources of Miranda's thick regolith layer: impact ejections, plume deposits and sediment from the rings of Uranus itself. Because of Miranda's blue color and unusually thick layer of regolith, scientists adhere to the latter hypothesis, which suggests that early in its history Miranda was within the region of Uranus' rings, or that the latter were much larger than today.
Unfortunately, so far only one probe, Voyager 2, has visited the Uranus system in January 1986, and no new missions to study the most distant planets in our solar system have been planned since then. Since Miranda shows no signs of geological activity, we are left to wonder whether a liquid ocean exists beneath its surface and whether its potential inhabitants will wait for a time when mankind can detect them.
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