Aside from having the coolest name for a moon ever, Hyperion is known for its potato-like shape and a surface that looks — and even acts — like a sponge. But as the Cassini spacecraft discovered back in 2005, this Saturnian moon also packs an unexpected punch.
The image above was captured by Cassini at a distance of 38,500 miles (62,000 km) on September 26, 2005, during a flyby. The ESA just released this refined, false-color perspective of the moon in which its surface features were enhanced by toning down its natural redness.
Hyperion, a conglomeration of water ice and rock that’s 255 miles (410 km) at its widest, is one of the largest irregularly shaped objects in the Solar System. Its low density gives it that “bubbly” appearance and highly porous nature.
Interestingly, Hyperion is a charged natural object, much like our own Moon. When Cassini swung by, it unleashed a burst of charged particles, delivering a rather significant 200-volt electric shock. The ESA says that, “Hyperion’s surface becomes electrostatically charged as it is bathed in charged particles – both those constantly streaming out into space from the Sun and those trapped within the magnetic field of the moon’s host planet, Saturn.”
Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.