The tumbling and irregularly shaped moon Hyperion hangs before Cassini in this image taken during a distant encounter in Dec. 2005. This still image is part of a movie sequence of 40 images taken over about two hours as Cassini sped past the icy moon (see PIA07683).
Hyperion (280 kilometers, or 174 miles across) is covered with closely packed and deeply etched pits. The warming action of the Sun on water ice lying beneath a darkened layer of surface material apparently has deepened and exaggerated the depressions already created by impacts.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 23, 2005 at a distance of 228,000 kilometers (142,000 miles) from Hyperion and at a Sun-Hyperion-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 77 degrees. Resolution in the original image was about 1.4 kilometers (0.9 mile) per pixel. The image was magnified by a factor of two and contrast-enhanced to aid visibility.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.