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NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured new photos of Saturn's ugly-duckling moon Hyperion that show its cratered surface up close.
The pictures come from Cassini's Aug. 25 flyby of the Saturn moon Hyperion. The pass, the spacecraft's second closest encounter with the moon, brought Cassini within about 15,500 miles (25,000 kilometers) of Hyperion’s surface. Of all Saturn’s 62 moons, Hyperion is one of the strangest. It is an ungainly, misshapen space rock hurtling on a chaotic orbit around the ringed giant.
The moon is small — only about 168 miles (270 kilometers) across — and has an irregular shape and surface appearance. As it tumbles along in orbit, the moon rotates unpredictably, preventing scientists from predicting in advance exactly what terrain the spacecraft's cameras would image during this flyby. However, this flyby's closeness has likely allowed Cassini's cameras to map new territory, scientists said.
This isn't the first time Cassini has snapped close-up photos of the Saturn moon. Cassini's closest encounter with Hyperion was on September 26, 2005, when the spacecraft flew approximately 310 miles (500 kilometers) above the moon's surface.