Hyperion, the eighth largest of Saturn’s 60 moons known so far, is completely littered with impact craters, the steep walls of which have experienced numerous landslides.
The surface of this satellite, which is 300 kilometres across at its widest point and was discovered in 1848, is covered by a thin layer of carbon compounds - organic molecules. In places, the material which has slid down has piled up at the bottom of the crater as a brown-black substratum.
The VIMS spectrometer (Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer), an experiment in which DLR participates, can be used to study the geochemical composition of the surface. The result is presented in false colour and has been superimposed on an image of Hyperion recorded with the camera during the same Cassini flyby. The blue areas show the exposure of pure water ice, red signifies carbon dioxide ice (“dry ice”), and magenta a mix of water and carbon dioxide ice; yellow denotes a mix of carbon dioxide and a material that has not yet been precisely identified.
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/Ames/Space Science Institute.