NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured new raw images of Saturn's oddly shaped moon, Hyperion, during its second closest encounter with the cratered body on Aug. 25, 2011.
Hyperion is a small moon, just 270 kilometers or 168 miles across in size, having an irregular shape and surface appearance. An intriguing feature about this moon is that it rotates chaotically as it tumbles along in orbit.
This odd rotation prevented scientists from predicting exactly what terrain the spacecraft's cameras would capture during this flyby.
Nevertheless, this close encounter with its surface has enabled Cassini's cameras to map new territory. This will allow a better study of the Hyperion surface and will particularly 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.
The next scheduled flyby of Cassini near Hyperion will be on Sept. 16, 2011, when it passes the tumbling moon at a distance of about 36,000 miles (58,000 kilometers).
Check out the first close-up images of Hyperion's foamy surface below: