It is time to see Hyperion – the odd, spongy and tumbling moon through the eyes of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft which made its final fly by across the moon on Sunday. According to information provided by NASA, the Cassini spacecraft is at a distance of 34,000 km from Hyperion.

Hyperion is a 168-mile or 267-km wide chunk of rock which rotates uncontrollably, tumbling erratically through space as it orbits Saturn. Hyperion is not even round and is actually a bit gnarled. In the Saturn system everything looks bizarre. The moon is potato shaped and its feature is dominated by a huge flat, crater. Numerous craters have a very dark material filling its floors and could be hydrocarbons or materials spluttered by micrometeorite impacts, which then fell on Hyperion from another moon.

Researchers expect to see a different terrain on Hyperion as compared to the earlier rendezvous. Most of the Cassini’s earlier fly-by was around the same familiar side of the odd moon. The moon’s body has a very low gravity and a mass of low density which made the close fly by much easier as compared to other moons. The low density also makes Hyperion quite porous and exhibits weak surface gravity. Its average density is about half or water. This means that the bulk of the Hyperion structure will be full of holes much like a pile of rubble.

The Cassini mission was launched way back in 2004 to learn more about Saturn and its moons. Cassini will fly by Saturn’s icy Dione moon on June 16 and in October will make two passes around the active moon Enceladus.

The images sent by Cassini will be used by Astronomers for decades. This mission has brought a wealth of information for the scientific community and will help us understand the solar system in a much better way.

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