An Example of Extremes

Titan and Hyperion

Giant, haze-covered Titan sits in front of  craggy, potato-shaped Hyperion in this image from Cassini, taken on November 13.

These two vastly different moons occupy neighboring orbits and thus affect each other’s travels around Saturn…although Titan obviously takes the lead in this dance. 168-mile-wide Hyperion is forced to speed up and slow down as it passes Titan. It’s also prevented from being tidally-locked to its Saturn by the influence of its larger neighbor, and therefore exhibits an irregular, tumbling rotation through space.

The two moons are over 160,000 miles apart, even at their closest passing.

UPDATE: Below is an animation of the two moons passing, made from 19 raw images level-adjusted and rotated 90º.

Hyperion passes behind Titan: click to play

Image: NASA/JPL/SSI. Animation: J. Major.