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Space Media

Cassini Returns Photos of Hyperion 202

imipak writes "The Cassini Saturn probe has captured the previously unseen northern polar region of Saturn's moon Hyperion. Its weirdly eroded surface looks like nothing else in the solar system seen so far, demonstrating once again that when it comes to planetary exploration, "expect the unexpected" is more than just glib advice from the Hitch-hiker's Guide!"
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Cassini Returns Photos of Hyperion

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  • What is that? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Capt'n Hector ( 650760 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:02PM (#13700817)
    What's that thing in the top left hand corner of the second image? It doesn't fit with the rest of the landscape...
    • Re:What is that? (Score:3, Informative)

      by iamlucky13 ( 795185 )
      Interesting, I didn't notice it before. Could be something tectonic. Plus, that picture is of Tethys, which has already been noticed for having a more obvious peculiar feature. [nasa.gov] That's no moon that's a...no wait, it is a moon, otherwise we'd be dead by now.
    • Why do you ask? The story submitter and the editors already provided a description. Apparently, you're looking at "nothing else in the solar system".


    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:57PM (#13701057) Journal
      What's that thing in the top left hand corner of the second image? It doesn't fit with the rest of the landscape...

      You mean the words that say, "DB_Session allocated the following problem: DB Error: connect failed"? Something tells me it is an earthy artifact.
    • Re:What is that? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blincoln ( 592401 )
      Wow, that is kind of eerie.

      The JPL page says the straight line is probably a fault or other geological feature, but the absence of any others in that area is a little suspicious.

      I blew up that section a bit, and it looks a LOT like something diamond- or arrowhead-shaped came screeching along the surface and plowed into the side of a hill, kicking up surface material and burying the leading edge. The "buried" object itself seems to be very sharply defined with straight lines, as opposed to the more "natural"
      • Re:What is that? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by blincoln ( 592401 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @08:42PM (#13701192) Homepage Journal
        The greyscale clear filter image [nasa.gov] I mentioned in another post is better for this work, and has less compression artifacts.

        The line really looks like a depression in that one, whereas in the false colour image it could be a protrusion.

        I blew it up considerably in Photoshop and increased the contrast to see details better. There are a number of smaller craters directly in the path of the line. If it were a rock impact, to my (non-astrophysicist/geologist) eye it looks like it behaved like a skipping stone - There are some bigger craters near where the top of the image cuts off the line, and about halfway along there's a pair on opposite sides of what appears to be a hill, as if it were skating along, used the hill as a jump, landed, and continued its movement.

        The bigger feature at the end of the line seems more symmetrical in this version. It looks kind of like a Concorde... or a giant bird footprint. Watch out Tethys, Colonel Sanders is too far away to save you.
        • Re:What is that? (Score:2, Informative)

          by muellerr1 ( 868578 )
          The line really looks like a depression in that one, whereas in the false colour image it could be a protrusion.

          If you rotate this photo 180 degrees the shadows and highlights may make more sense. The light is coming from the lower right of the picture, which may be disorienting as we expect light to come from the top of a photo and it becomes an optical illusion that makes craters look like plateaus and fault lines look like alien worms on the surface.
      • Re:What is that? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BeBoxer ( 14448 )
        The JPL page says the straight line is probably a fault or other geological feature, but the absence of any others in that area is a little suspicious.

        Actually, if you look at the Hi res TIFF version [nasa.gov] you can see several more of them. None as large and obvious, but I found at least five or so linear formations in that picture. There is a cluster of three at the bottom beneath the obvious one.
        • You're right, although I make it four in that area after doing some image enhancement.

          My geology is a little rusty. If the big line is a fault, could the "chicken footprint" be where geologic activity caused some underground caverns to collapse?
          • My geology is a little rusty. If the big line is a fault, could the "chicken footprint" be where geologic activity caused some underground caverns to collapse?

            Absolutely. And when I say that, I mean that my geology isn't rusty, it's non-existant. But it sounds good to me. What I find fascinating about all of this is that many of these moons are obviously more interesting than our own, which really just seems to be a big dumb rock in comparison.
      • Re:What is that? (Score:4, Informative)

        by bani ( 467531 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @09:47PM (#13701419)
        Try this image [nasa.gov].

        Suddenly, it looks absolutely not "artificial" and a whole lot like a fault line. You can even see a bunch of other smaller/thinner lines in the image. The "buried" object looks irregular, with absolutely no sharp definition or straight lines at all. Looks like just an oddly eroded area.

        • The lines and blobs look a whole lot like the spatter and slag that results from arc or MIG/TIG welding. Perhaps the lines and blobs were formed from molten material landing back on the surface after an impact.
          • the lines are quite clearly depressions, not bumps.

            • Not to me in this image [nasa.gov]. The line looks more like a merging of the surrounding material with an external source of stuff, kinda like a weld. It doesn't seem to be raised or depressed, just disturbed.
              • looks quite clearly like a groove to me.

                keep in mind most features on that image are depressions, not raised bumps.
              • the sunlight direction is coming from the bottom (the circles are craters) for your assumption they are welding-line-ish material deposited on the surface, the sunlight would have to be from the top, and all the circles would have to be raised bumps -- and there would be no craters on this surface at all (with your assumption and lighting from the top, there are no craters -- only raised bumps).
      • something diamond- or arrowhead-shaped

        Frankly it looks like the Millenium Falcon to me...

        "A long time ago, in a galaxy far^H^H^H quite near here actually." ;-)


    • Looks tectonic - which would suggest at least a reasonably firm crust.
    • by riffzifnab ( 449869 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @08:18PM (#13701132) Journal
      Its a fish fossil. You see, when God created the earth 3,000 years ago he had some stuff left over, so he just thew it in orbit around other planets, figuring no one would ever find it.
    • Naquada Mine.
  • by Work Account ( 900793 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:02PM (#13700821) Journal
    And it's a good thing!

    Cassini was helped to more funding because WE the geeks of Web/Net WANT TO KNOW. We want to see our world, our Universe. We join advocacy groups and science foundations.

    Keep up the good work NASA. Let private groups continue as well.

    I see a 2nd space renaissance soon!
  • by parasonic ( 699907 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:02PM (#13700825)
    ...it's a weirdly eroded space station.
  • by eMartin ( 210973 )
    I don't get that second image.

    Is that what nothing else looks like, or is that what everything else looks like?

    Either way, this article proves we shouldn't make general statements like that, doesn't it?
    • Re:Nothing else? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:19PM (#13700914)
      I assume it's intended to more generally portray what everything else looks like, that aged and eroded. Contours and features across the solar system generally tend to be smoothed over by erosion or the settling of debris from subsequent meteor impacts. In contrast, Hyperion show's quite a few sharply defined ridges. By the way, I think the second image is taken in infrared, and the color choices for displaying it are even more confusing.
  • Many uses! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SkullOne ( 150150 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:04PM (#13700830) Homepage
    My girlfriend has one of those in the shower, and yells at me when I leave it in the old water :(
  • Wrong moon. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kjellander ( 163404 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:08PM (#13700849)
    The image in the post http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/moons /images/PIA07737-br500.jpg [nasa.gov] is of the moon Tethys and not Hyperion.

    It was a double flyby, hence the confusion.
  • Imagine (Score:4, Funny)

    by OSXpert ( 560516 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:10PM (#13700859)
    Imagine a beowolf cluster of "Thats no moon" jokes...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:10PM (#13700861)
    Um, I realize that typing up an article takes work, but perhaps some thought and energy might be used to make things a bit more comprehensible....

    The two pictures are from different moons, Tethys (second link), Hyperion (first link). Perhaps reading a caption from the real article at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm [nasa.gov] would help

  • Uh oh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by slashname3 ( 739398 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:11PM (#13700865)
    Travel pictures? Uh, yeah, that would be interesting. It is getting late though. Have a big meeting in the morning. Really, have to go. You have to download the pictures? It will take how long? Their from where?! How far out is that? No really, I have to leave. I can't wait that long to look at trip pictures. Really, big meeting, yes, really big meeting. Bye! [makes a break for the car....]
  • by sploxx ( 622853 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:12PM (#13700873)
    Having no formal education in planetology does not stop me to spout nonsense on slashdot:

    But the first picture looks like there was just big collision (old big crater) followed by lots of small collisions, without any erosion in between. I *think* I have seen similar features on the moon.
    To have this picture is nonetheless an astonishing accomplishment.

    I think that simply the lighting makes this view impressive :)
    • A big crater like that on a little moon would probably have torn it apart if created by a collision. More likely, all the craters, big and small, are the result of the thing blowing up again and again from the inside.
      • More likely, all the craters, big and small, are the result of the thing blowing up again and again from the inside.

        I have to admit, that's what I first thought when I saw the big crater feature - this is the "after" picture of a moon that's been moved (hard SF geek heritage showing here). Sadly, there's probably a more prosaic answer - maybe the moon is a fragment of a larger object, and the crater is the record of the impact that shattered it.
  • It looks like a microscopic picture of a grain of salt or something, wonder what it would look like if you were standing on the surface...
    • Re:Weird (Score:5, Interesting)

      by null etc. ( 524767 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:52PM (#13701042)
      It looks like a microscopic picture of a grain of salt or something

      If it's a microscopic picture, I have to ask - what browser are you using to view it?

      Bad jokes aside, this is what a magnified grain of salt looks like:

      (it's pretty enough to make desktop wallpaper)

    • Did they publish a scale for the picture?

      Does anyone remember that old British sci-fi show UFO? They had an episode once where they managed to get a probe to follow one of the UFOs back to its home planet and send back pictures. But the probe malfunctioned and did not send back info regarding the scale of the pictures. They could not tell if they were looking at something very very large or something that was relatively small. And because they did not have any point of reference they could not tell
  • it's a cosmic loofah
  • Oh please (Score:5, Funny)

    by colonslashslash ( 762464 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:17PM (#13700900) Homepage
    Everyone knows NASA faked the moon landings, and this is just a black and white close up of a rice crispy in Mike Griffin's morning cereal! ;-)
  • After viewing the pictures of the highly eroded surface, NASA scientists realized it bears a striking resemblance to EDWARD JAMES OLMOS and have renamed the moon in his honour. The moon will now be known as the "EDWARD JAMES OLMOS MOON" in honour of the Battlestar Galactica and Miami Vice star.
  • ... the Shrike??
  • by Adam Avangelist ( 808947 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:25PM (#13700940)
    http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/moons /images/PIA07737-br500.jpg [nasa.gov] Iv'e scene this in the toliet bowl after a hard night of drinking and Taco Bell.
  • This looks kind of like a wasps' nest. So THAT'S where all those big space wasps in my garden are coming from!
  • It's weirdly eroded surface looks like nothing else in the solar system seen so far

    That's a patently false statement. Walk up to any person with a printout of this photo, and ask them, "Hey, does this look like anything you've seen in the solar system so far?" They'll probably say, "Yeah, it looks like a sponge" or "Yeah, it looks like pumice" or "Yeah, it looks like my mother-in-law's face".

    Perhaps it doesn't look like any other celestial body we've seen so far.

  • thats pretty much the most disgusting thing I have seen today.
  • Erosion? This thing has been beaten up badly by tons of impacts from Saturn's gravity pulling (or intelligently falling for you IDers) all sorts of cosmic debris down onto it.

    It looks worse than Noriega's face

    • This thing has been beaten up badly by tons of impacts from Saturn's gravity pulling

      It must have originally consisted of some volatile material (frozen ammonia?) which sublimated away when the local environment heated up. Perhaps it got hit by a smaller object and the resulting increase in temperature boiled part of the surface away.

      The remaining material is probably water ice.

      • A NASA website said that the moon has a very low density, and is more like a clump of dirty ice than a solid. It's probably riddles with caves as well...will make some interesting spelunking once we have the tech to visit it as tourists.
  • by Derling Whirvish ( 636322 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @08:05PM (#13701087) Journal
    It looks like the remains of sublimated ice/dirt from hoarfrost or something like that. Or the leftovers from a half-melted snowstorm on the side of the road. I've seen similar effects in the frost of my non-frost-free freezer. Definately not rocks/dirt like the moon or Mars.
    • "Like thing else in the solar system"?

      This stuff looks a great deal like features [msss.com] found all [msss.com] over Mars [msss.com], just enormously more concentrated, and steeper. (Notice particularly the flat-bottomed craters on hillsides and on the right side of the image.) Of course the mechanisms normally proposed for the Martian features ("collapse pits") are inconceivable applied to identical features on Hyperion. That doesn't reduce the objective similarity, of course, but it makes those mechanisms much less plausible for t

    • I agree: the surface small-scale smoothness, sharp lines where crater walls collapsed, the angle of slopes, everything suggests a snow landscape. Add sublimation to explain lowered areas of terrain and thus the distorted shape of most craters. In my armchair-planetologist opinion, the moon's low density is more easily explained by the material itself rather than by vast cave systems underground, as I've read somewhere.
  • Material (Score:3, Funny)

    by dorkygeek ( 898295 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @08:07PM (#13701091) Journal
    Uhmm, the cheese looks definitely older than on our moon [google.com] (set zoom to highest level).
  • IMHO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheHawke ( 237817 ) <rchapin@@@stx...rr...com> on Sunday October 02, 2005 @08:21PM (#13701139)
    I think that this was a bubble of magma that spun off of a world, bubble and seethed close to the sun, then cooled down to a pockmarked, gas bubble fulled rock. Then a asteroid hit opposite of the picture seen here, blasting a good sized chunk off of the surface, leaving that odd bump in the middle of that crater.
  • While I think it is a good idea for a well regulated market economy to investigate mergers and acquisitions thoroughly, I think sending multi-billion dollar probes to scrutinise Hyperion [hyperion.com]'s recent purchase of Brio [brio.com] to be a bit much...
  • Does the second pic look like a Total Annihilation map to anyone other than me?
  • It looks like honey comb to me. It must have been
    made by giant space bees.

  • What we are seeing, ladies and gents, is a galactic Surinam Toad [wikipedia.org].

    Exactly what the spawn were, and what has become of them, is the subject of fierce debate. But we can be sure of two things: We have always been at war with Oceania, and these creatures don't like waffles.

    Oh sure, my friends said, just try a little LSD. All that stuff about flashbacks and going psycho is bullshit ...
  • Great Expectorations (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @09:49PM (#13701431) Homepage Journal
    OK, the H2G2 Radio Scripts [zootle.net] include "expect the unexpected". But I learned that advice from Arnold Horshack, on _Welcome Back, Kotter_: "when you least expect it, expect it." [google.com]
  • by Wolfier ( 94144 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @10:54PM (#13701639)
    Bah.  First thing that came to mind:

    http://images.google.ca/images?hl=en&q=co ral&btnG=Google+Search&sa=N&tab=wi
  • JPEG vs TIFF (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Master Control P ( 655590 ) <ejkeever@nerdshack . c om> on Sunday October 02, 2005 @11:19PM (#13701732)
    I took a close look at the high-res pictures they offer in TIFF (3MB) and JPEG (120K) format. Even though the jpg contains 1/25th as much information as the tiff, it still looked decent up close. When I tried turning the contrast way up (100) the tiff was far better up close (jpeg turned to gray mush), but at hi con both looked similar at 100%. The tif seemed to have more vibrant colors.

    What I'm trying to ask is, does anyone else notice a major difference between the two without using the GIMP @ 7 or 8X zoom?
  • by lorelorn ( 869271 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:08AM (#13701867)
    If you look at the main facing side of Hyperion (in the image that is actually of Hyperion) what you are seeing is part of a very old impact crater.

    You can see the raised part in the centre, around which is part of the old crater wall.

    Note the crater wall is significantly brighter than the surrounds - this is exposed materials, mainly water ice to judge from the brightness.

    The other thing to note is that the crater is incomplete, and is itself riddled with craters, both the centre and the crater walls. This tells us that the large crater is very old. How old I would leave to an expert of the Saturnian system, who would no more about impact frequencies than me.

    Hyperion is interesting in that it is the largest irregular body in the solar system. Anything larger (and many smaller objects) are pulled into a spherical shape by their own gravity. Hyperion is not that much smaller than Enceladus, and is of a similar make-up (frozen H2O) yet these object are very different.

    I would hypothesise that a large impact has sheared off part of Hyperion- that's why the large crater is incomplete - the rest is gone, possibly to become part of the ring material but I don't know what the timing of that blast was.

    The very strange not-really-craters next to the very large impact crater I would say were outgassing artefacts, not any type of impact crater. Basically the heat from the large impact caused volatiles to rocket out of Hyperion, leaving those sort of "exit valve" formations.

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