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#Science

Saturn’s spongy outer moon Hyperion snapped in great detail

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Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft has snapped one of Saturn’s outer moon Hyperion in great detail revealing its bath sponge like structure. The image was captured by Cassini when it performed a flyby of the small moon on 26 September 2005.

Described as a porous sea sponge by European Space Agency (ESA), Hyperion can be seen floating in the inky black surroundings of the deep sea in the image.

While Cassini was flying past the moon, it was bombarded with a burst of charged particles by Hyperion that effectively delivering a giant 200-volt electric shock. It appears that Hyperion’s surface becomes electrostatically charged as it is bathed in charged particles – both those constantly streaming out into space from the Sun and those trapped within the magnetic field of the moon’s host planet, Saturn.

While astronomers expected many bodies throughout the Solar System to be charged, the data from the Cassini flyby represent the first-ever experience of a charged natural object in space other than our own Moon.

ESA describes Hyperion as being shaped a bit like a potato and is said to be one of the largest bodies in the Solar System known to be so irregular. One of the primary reasons why its shape is odd with almost ‘bubbly’ appearance is that it has a very low density for its size.

Because of these properties the entire moon is porous, like a sponge, with well-preserved craters of all shapes and sizes packed together across its surface. Scientists think that this moon is mostly made up of water ice, with small amounts of rock, notes ESA.

Images taken using infrared, green and ultraviolet filters were combined to create this view. The natural redness of Hyperion’s surface was toned down in this false-colour image to enhance the visibility of the moon’s surface features

Cassini was approximately 62,000 km from Hyperion when the image was taken, and the image scale is 362 m per pixel.