From Earth to the Solar System: Hyperion

HYPERION: Sponge or moon? This stunning, false-color image of Saturn’s moon Hyperion reveals crisp details across the strange, tumbling moon’s surface. Although somewhat potato-shaped, Hyperion’s average diameter is 270km (168 miles). Scientists think Hyperion’s unique appearance can be attributed to the fact that it has an unusually low density for such a large object, giving it weak surface gravity and high porosity. Hyperion’s craters are particularly deep and there appears to have been landslides inside many of the bigger craters. The result is a curious look, somewhat like the surface of a sponge or a wasp nest. Many of the crater walls on Hyperion are bright, suggesting an abundance of water ice. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Posted: 6 December 2011
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Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.