by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Aug 29, 2011
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 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.
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).
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Putting it all Together on Titan
Pasadena CA (JPL) Aug 09, 2011
Three of Titan's major surface features-dunes, craters and the enigmatic Xanadu-appear in this radar image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The hazy bright area at the left that extends to the lower center of the image marks the northwest edge of Xanadu, a continent-sized feature centered near the moon's equator. At upper right is the crater Ksa, first seen by Cassini in 2006 (PIA0917 ... read more
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