Here’s a wonderful color mosaic of Saturn’s moon Hyperion, assembled by Gordan Ugarkovic from four Cassini narrow-angle camera images. The moon’s heavily cratered sponge-like surface can be seen in vivid detail due to the high phase angle of sunlight, making its rough texture even more pronounced.
At 255 x 163 x 137 miles in diameter, Hyperion is the largest of Saturn’s irregularly-shaped moons. Scientists think it may be the remains of a larger body that was blown apart by an impact…Hyperion’s craters have a “punched-in” look rather than appearing to have been excavated by collisions.
Hyperion orbits Saturn in an eccentric orbit at a distance of over 920,000 miles…that’s almost four times the distance our own moon is from us! This distance – as well as gravitational nudging from Titan – prevents Hyperion from becoming tidally locked with Saturn, like most other moons are…that is, it does not always face the same side to Saturn (like our moon does with Earth.)
Gordan Ugarkovic’s talent at assembling intriguing images from raw data from Cassini and other exploration spacecraft is simply amazing…check out more of his work on his Flickr site here.
Image: NASA/JPL/SSI/Gordan Ugarkovic.