Wednesday, 16 February 2022

♅ v

Discovered on this day in 1948 by Dutch astronomer Gerard Kuiper (namesake of the circumstellar disc, the Kuiper Belt) at the McDonald Observatory in western Texas, the smallest, innermost icy moon of Uranus was named for Prospero’s daughter Miranda from Shakespeare’s The Tempest following the naming conventions for the other satellites. Orbiting the Sun on its side like its host world, it is prone to extreme and its mantle has one of the most varied and fantastical terrains known with one feature, called Verona Rupes (after the Italian village and setting for a pair of plays and the Latin for cliff), the highest escarpment in the Solar System at twenty kilometers. Due to Miranda’s weak gravity and off-kilter stance, it would take nearly a quarter of an hour to fall from this height to the surface.