New Views of Spongy-Looking Saturn's Moon Hyperion

Jul 12, 2005
Saturn's unusually shaped moon, Hyperion

Two new Cassini views of Saturn's tumbling moon Hyperion offer the best looks yet at one of the icy, irregularly-shaped moons that orbit the giant, ringed planet.

Image: Saturn's unusually shaped moon, Hyperion.

The image products released today include a movie sequence and a 3D view, and are available at ciclops.org/

The views were acquired between June 9 and June 11, 2005, during Cassini's first brush with Hyperion.

Hyperion is decidedly non-spherical and its unusual shape is easy to see in the movie, which was acquired over the course of two and a half days. Jagged outlines visible on the moon's surface are indicators of large impacts that have chipped away at its shape like a sculptor.

Preliminary estimates of its density show that Hyperion is only about 60 percent as dense as solid water ice, indicating that much of its interior (40 percent or more) must be empty space. This makes the moon more like an icy rubble pile than a solid body.

In both the movie and the 3D image, craters are visible on the moon’s surface down to the limit of resolution, about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) per pixel. The fresh appearance of most of these craters, combined with their high spatial density, makes Hyperion look something like a sponge.

The moon's spongy-looking exterior is an interesting coincidence, as much of Hyperion’s interior appears to consist of voids. Hyperion is close to the size limit where, like a child compacting a snowball, internal pressure due to the moon’s own gravity will begin to crush weak materials like ice, closing pore spaces and eventually creating a more nearly spherical shape.

The images used to create these views were obtained with Cassini's narrow-angle camera at distances ranging from approximately 815,000 to 168,000 kilometers (506,000 to 104,000 miles) from Hyperion. Cassini will fly within 510 kilometers (317 miles) of Hyperion on Sept. 26, 2005.

Source: NASA

Explore further: NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Saturn is like an antiques shop, Cassini suggests

Mar 27, 2013

(Phys.org) —A new analysis of data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft suggests that Saturn's moons and rings are gently worn vintage goods from around the time of our solar system's birth.

Cassini closes in on Saturn's tumbling moon Hyperion

Aug 26, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured new views of Saturn's oddly shaped moon Hyperion during its encounter with this cratered body on Thursday, Aug. 25. Raw images were acquired as the spacecraft ...

Cassini Finds Hydrocarbons on Saturn's Moon Hyperion

Jul 05, 2007

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has revealed for the first time surface details of Saturn's moon Hyperion, including cup-like craters filled with hydrocarbons that may indicate more widespread presence in our solar ...

Cassini's Photo Album From a Season of Icy Moons

Dec 07, 2005

Wrapping up a phenomenally successful year of observing Saturn's icy moons, the Cassini mission is releasing a flood of new views of the moons Enceladus, Dione, Rhea, Hyperion and Iapetus.

Cassini's Doubleheader Flybys Score Home Run

Sep 30, 2005

Cassini performed back-to-back flybys of Saturn moons Tethys and Hyperion last weekend, coming closer than ever before to each of them. Tethys has a scarred, ancient surface, while Hyperion is a strange, spongy-looking body ...

Recommended for you

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

11 hours ago

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

Apr 18, 2014

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the "habitable" zone of a distant star, though exciting, is still a long way from pointing to the existence of extraterrestrial life, experts said Friday. ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

Apr 18, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

Apr 18, 2014

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.