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Cassini closes in on Saturn's tumbling moon Hyperion

Date:
August 28, 2011
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured new views of Saturn's oddly shaped moon Hyperion during its encounter with a cratered body on Aug. 25. Raw images were acquired as the spacecraft flew past the moon at a distance of about 15,500 miles (25,000 kilometers), making this the second closest encounter.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft obtained this unprocessed image of Saturn's moon Hyperion on Aug. 25, 2011.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured new views of Saturn's oddly shaped moon Hyperion during its encounter with a cratered body on Thursday, Aug. 25. Raw images were acquired as the spacecraft flew past the moon at a distance of about 15,500 miles (25,000 kilometers), making this the second closest encounter.

Hyperion is a small moon -- just 168 miles (270 kilometers) across. It has an irregular shape and surface appearance, and it rotates chaotically as it tumbles along in orbit. This odd rotation prevented scientists from predicting exactly what terrain the spacecraft's cameras would image during this flyby.

However, this flyby's closeness has likely allowed Cassini's cameras to map new territory. At the very least, it will help scientists improve color measurements of the moon. It will also help them determine how the moon's brightness changes as lighting and viewing conditions change, which can provide insight into the texture of the surface. The color measurements provide additional information about different materials on the moon's deeply pitted surface.

The latest raw images of Hyperion are online at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/ .

Cassini's closest encounter with Hyperion was on September 26, 2005, when the spacecraft flew approximately 310 miles (500 kilometers) above the moon's surface. Cassini's next flyby of Hyperion will be on Sept. 16, 2011, when it passes the tumbling moon at a distance of about 36,000 miles (58,000 kilometers).

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Cassini closes in on Saturn's tumbling moon Hyperion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110827191804.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2011, August 28). Cassini closes in on Saturn's tumbling moon Hyperion. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110827191804.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Cassini closes in on Saturn's tumbling moon Hyperion." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110827191804.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

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