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Cassini makes flyby of Saturn's 'oddly-shaped moon'

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Saturn's non-round shaped moon Hyperion. A NASA photo

WASHINGTON (BNS): NASA spacecraft Cassini has made the second flyby of Hyperion during which it has acquired new images of this oddly-shaped moon of Saturn.

Cassini’s close encounter with Hyperion occurred on August 25 when it flew past the small non-round shaped moon at a distance of 25,000 kilometers.

Hyperion is a small moon – just 270 kilometers across. It has an irregular shape and surface appearance, and it rotates chaotically as it tumbles along in orbit.

This odd rotation of Hyperion prevented scientists from predicting exactly what terrain the spacecraft’s cameras would image during the flyby.

However, the flyby’s closeness could have helped Cassini map new territory of the moon, NASA said.

“At the very least, it will help scientists improve colour 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 space agency said.

The colour measurements provide additional information about different materials on the moon’s deeply pitted surface.

Cassini’s first close encounter with Hyperion had occurred on September 26, 2005, when the spacecraft flew approximately 500 kilometers above the moon’s surface.

The spacecraft’s next flyby of Hyperion will be on September 16, 2011, when it passes the tumbling moon at a distance of about 58,000 kilometers, NASA said.


Cassini  Saturn  Moon  
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