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Target 1: Hyperion

Target 1: Hyperion in High-Def

Todd Brown

Cassini Spacecraft Control Engineer

Computer simulation of Target 1: Hyperion
Software used by the Cassini science planning team simulates the field of view the cameras on board the Cassini spacecraft can capture at a specific date and time. This is a computer-generated image of Hyperion as seen by the Cassini spacecraft's Narrow Angle Camera on Sept. 16, 2001.
+ Click on the image for a larger view

Hi! My name is Todd and I'm part of the team of engineers that fly Cassini.

My job is to make sure Cassini's cameras are pointed in the right place.

For this observation, I think Cassini should look at target number 1, Hyperion.

When you see pictures of this moon you'll agree that this is NOT your average space rock!

Hyperion is one of the most bizarre and strangely beautiful moons in our entire solar system.

Hyperion has a stretched shape, almost like a potato, and the entire surface of Hyperion is covered in so many craters that it's hard to even tell where one crater ends and another begins.

Just imagine all of the violent impacts that this poor little moon endured in the distant past.

Did you notice that the craters on Hyperion look like they go pretty deep below the moon's surface?

This is because Hyperion is a very loosely packed ball of rock and ice.

It's almost like Hyperion is this big snowball that never got properly squeezed into a nice strong spherical shape.

That's why when rocks crash into Hyperion instead of leaving round marks on the surface of the moon, the impacting rocks poke deep holes toward the center of Hyperion.

Do you want to know what the coolest thing about Hyperion is though?

This moon has a chaotic rotation!

That means that even with the most sophisticated mathematical models scientists can't predict whether we'll see the front side or the back side of this moon.

This little moon is a modern day mystery and that's why we need close-up photos, like the ones in this observation, to try to unlock the riddle of why this moon behaves the way it does.

Now, we may not know which side of the moon we'll see, but I do know that we won't be disappointed with the breathtaking photos of Hyperion that Cassini beams back to Earth.

That's why I think we should look at target number one, Hyperion.