The sponge-like surface of Saturn's moon Hyperion is highlighted in this Cassini portrait, captured during the spacecraft's Sept. 16, 2011, flyby.
Hyperion (270 kilometers, 168 miles across) has an irregular shape, and it tumbles through its orbit: that is, it does not spin at a constant rate or in a constant orientation. (A standard reference latitude-longitude system has not yet been devised for this moon.) Images such as this one extend previous coverage and allow a better inventory of the surface features, the satellite's shape and changes in its spin. See PIA06243 and PIA07761 to learn more and to watch a movie.
The image was taken in visible blue light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 88,000 kilometers (54,000 miles) from Hyperion and at a Sun-Hyperion-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 37 degrees. Image scale is 524 meters (1,718 feet) per pixel.
The Cassini Solstice Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. 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 was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.