Abstract

Miranda, an icy moon of Uranus, is one of the most visually striking and enigmatic bodies in the solar system. Three polygonal-shaped regions of intense deformation, dubbed “coronae,” dominate the surface of Miranda. Here we use numerical methods to show that sluggish-lid convection in Miranda’s ice shell, powered by tidal heating, can simultaneously match the global distribution of coronae, the concentric deformation pattern, and the estimated heat flow during formation. The expected rheological conditions in Miranda’s ice shell lead to the development of low-order convection that produces surface deformation patterns similar to those observed. We find that satellite core size strongly controls convection geometry and that low-order convection patterns are much more stable for core radii less than half the satellite radius.

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