The Cassini spacecraft gazes at Saturn's far-off moon Hyperion.
This view was obtained at a distance of approximately 324,000 miles (521,000 kilometers) from Hyperion and at a Sun-Hyperion-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 90 degrees. Hyperion (168 miles, or 270 kilometers across) has an irregular shape, and it tumbles through its orbit: that is, it does not spin at a constant rate or in a constant orientation. (A standard reference latitude-longitude system has not yet been devised for this moon.) See Encountering Hyperion and Cosmic Blasting Zone to learn more and to watch a movie.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 25, 2012. Scale in the original image was 2 miles (3 kilometers) per pixel. The image was contrast enhanced and magnified by a factor of 1.5 to enhance the visibility of surface features.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute