It’s chaos at Saturn’s moon Hyperion

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

The moon Hyperion tumbles as it orbits Saturn. Hyperion’s (270 kilometres or 168 miles across) spin axis has a chaotic orientation in time, meaning that it is essentially impossible to predict how the moon will be spinning in the future. So far, scientists only know of a few bodies with such chaotic spins.

The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on 22 August 2016.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 326,000 kilometres (203,000 miles) from Hyperion and at a Sun-Hyperion-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 10 degrees. Image scale is 2 kilometres (1 mile) per pixel.


Saturn: Exploring the Ringed Planet

Find out more about Saturn and its moons in this 196-page special edition from Astronomy Now.

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