The Mystery of Miranda
by David A. Simons
I learned about the canyon from Shelley, an ex I hadn't seen or thought about for
I almost deleted the message unread when I saw who it was from. But Shelley
being Shelley, she'd known just what to say to get my attention.
"I've found something," she began, "which might interest you."
She sent the message from the surface of Miranda, one of Uranus' inner moons,
where she was trailing a team of miners on a geological survey. Deep inside
Miranda's Chevron Valley, they'd stumbled upon the rim of a previously
uncharted canyon. It was narrow, crescent-shaped, mostly obscured by shadow,
missed by both the Voyager and Bard probes. The miners scanned a few rock
samples at the lip, found nothing which interested them, and moved on.
But Shelley had lingered. She'd dropped in a stream of radar balls, constructing a
crude map of the canyon's interior. When she saw the results, she didn't share
them with the miners. She sent the map directly to me.
It was the deepest canyon in the solar system. Twenty-three kilometers, straight
down, from surface to floor. Three times deeper than the Hebes Chasma on Mars,
twice as deep as the Herschel crater on Mimas, deeper even than the ice rifts of
Tethys. A dark void in the ground, like an open mouth, plunging to depths never
encountered by man.
The moment I received Shelley's message, I began making plans. I would be the
first to reach the canyon's floor.