Miranda Just Looks All Wrong

Miranda V2 HR 1-25-86-gigapixel-scale-2_00x

This is a mosaic of Uranus’ moon Miranda made from images acquired by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft on January 25, 1986. Color added as an approximation to natural color (from what I could determine online.)

The incredible ~20km-high Verona Rupes cliff can be seen at lower left along the moon’s limb. The rest of the moon is a tortured landscape of craters, grooves, and twisted ice in a Frankenstein’s-monster-style patchwork of pieces. It was once thought that Miranda was shattered by an impact and then reassembled, but new research indicates its appearance may be the result of a weak surface distorted by Uranus’ gravity.

I used about 8 images from Voyager 2 to assemble this. (One was a lower-res wide-angle shot to fill in a missing section near Verona Rupes.) Because the spacecraft was moving between shots (>19 km/second) I had to do some fudging to get the pieces to line up but yes, Miranda really is that messed up-looking.

See this image on my Flickr album.

Miranda’s dimensions are 480 x 468.4 x  465.8 km. It orbits Uranus once every 34 hours. We got our best views (i.e., these images) of Uranus and its moons in January 1986 when Voyager 2 flew past. No spacecraft has visited since then.

Learn more about the Voyager mission here.

Image credit: NASA / JPL / Jason Major