Will the trip to the dark side of Hyperion yields more interesting results: Nothing is definite until the fat lady sings

One of Saturn’s most interesting moons is on the visiting list of NASA’s Cassini probe. The probe aims to pass the irregular moon then snap some pictures of it this Sunday.

This isn’t the first time Cassini has passed Hyperion. But this time, the craft will be as near as 21,000 miles at 9:36 AM, and the images it takes are expected to reach NASA about two days after. Researchers are looking forward to studying the irregular space rock.

Despite being called a moon, it’s quite different from Earth’s own moon, rolling around in an unpredictable fashion. So much so that even NASA scientists call its erratic behavior “unpredictable.” It’s this motion that piques scientists’ interest. What could be on Hyperion’s surface that causes such an erratic motion?

Though Hyperion has been passed several times, most passes usually end up seeing the same side. Scientists hope that this time they’ll get a view of the seldom observed dark side.

Hyperion itself has a texture like that of a sponge with water composing half of the celestial body, giving it a weak gravitational pull and a low density.

The last time Cassini paid a visit to Hyperion was sometime during September last year, when it detected an icy spray coming from Enceladus, another of Saturn’s moons.

Source: http://www.statecolumn.com/2015/05/what-will-nasas-probe-find-on-saturns-strange-moon-hyperion/

 

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