What stands behind the sponge-textured Saturn moon Hyperion?


What lies at the bottom of Hyperion’s strange craters? Nobody knows. To help find out, the robot Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn swooped past the sponge-textured moon in late 2005 and took an image of unprecedented detail. That image, shown above in false color, shows a remarkable world strewn with strange craters and a generally odd surface. The slight differences in color likely show differences in surface composition. At the bottom of most craters lies some type of unknown dark material. Inspection of the image shows bright features indicating that the dark material might be only tens of meters thick in some places. Hyperion is about 250 kilometers across, rotates chaotically, and has a density so low that it might house a vast system of caverns inside.

4 thoughts on “What stands behind the sponge-textured Saturn moon Hyperion?

  1. First, I really love that spectacular picture of Hyperion. Our best guess at L.Pioneer is that it’s surface appears similar in character to a comet’s, in this case one highly depleted of volatiles.

    (Second, your headline is, well, off a bit, isn’t it? Clearly you can tell Hyperion orbits Saturn, not Mars. As does Cassini. Carry On! Wonderful site. Thanks)

  2. An honest mistake I’ve similarly made on PowerPoints in front of experts. It is truly a fantastic photograph, though. Not just a depeleted comet but a cross between a flower and an abandoned wasp’s nest. Seems everywhere we get a closer look throughout the universe, the more beautiful and surprising the outcome, always raising more questions than are answered..

  3. What I find interesting is how so far away Hyperion looks so familiar at the same time? It is like a huge sponge or the outside of a shell. My first idea was that it was a sponge…

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