Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 12, 2014

Mysterious Hyperion (Part III)
Mysterious Hyperion (Part III)

Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

This High-Resolution NASA - Cassini Spacecraft's image-mosaic shows us that Hyperion truly has a Surface that is deeply different from any other one so far seen in the Saturnian System. This image-mosaic is composed of 5 (five) Clear Filter images taken during the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft's close Fly-By of Hyperion which occurred on September, 26, 2005. In fact, the Spacecraft passed - approximately - only 500 Km (such as about 310,5 miles) above the moon's Surface.

Planetary Scientists are extremely curious to learn what the Dark Material that fills so many Craters (---> better yet: Pits) on this oddball moon could be (even though, as we wrote in the past, the most plausible theory that Scientists have come out with so far, suggests that this Dark Material could reasonably be made of frozen Surfacing Hydrocarbons). The Surface Features found within the Dark Terrain, including an approx. 200-meter-wide (about 656-feet) Impact Crater surrounded by Rays and visible to the right (Dx) of center, as well as numerous Bright-Rimmed Pits, indicate (---> suggest, among other possibilities) that the Dark Material may be only a few tens of meters thick, with more Brighter Material located underneath it.

Planetary Scientists will also be examining Cassini's sharp views of Hyperion with the aim of trying to determine whether there have been multiple episodes of Landslides on this Celestial Object, and, if so, why they have happened (and if they are, maybe, still happening). However, such a "Downslope Movement of Material" is pretty evident in the filling of Craters and Pits with Debris, and the near elimination of many Craters located along their steeper Slopes. Answers to these questions may help solve the mystery of why this Celestial Object has evolved different Surface Forms from all the other moons of Saturn. Just out of curiosity, the (Geological/Mineralogical) reason why of the pale "pinkish" color that is typical of some areas of Hyperion, is still a mistery.

The images comprising this mosaic were taken with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft's Narrow-Angle Camera at distances ranging from approximately 8.500 Km (such as about 5.278,5 miles) to approx. 4.600 Km (such as about 2.856,6 miles) from Hyperion; the image scale is roughly 26 meters (such as about 85,28 feet) per pixel.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - CASSINI Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 07741) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, reduced in size to fit the page, Gamma corrected and then colorized - according to an educated guess (or, if you wish, an informed speculation) carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga - in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Saturnian moon "Hyperion"), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among other things, the existence of different Elements (Minerals) present on the Surface of Hyperion, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

Note: it is possible (but we, as IPF, have no way to be one-hundred-percent sure of such a circumstance), that the actual luminosity of Hyperion - as it is in this frame - would appear, to an average human eye, a little bit lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

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