Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Tethys Flyby

The Cassini probe is continuing its exploration of the Saturn system, most recently with flybys of Tethys and Hyperion. The photo at right is a remarkable close-up of the surface of Tethys; many more are posted on the Cassini site. On the flybys:

This week Cassini will play a doubleheader with two flybys of Saturn's moon's Tethys (Sept. 24) and Hyperion (Sept. 26). Cassini will be eye-to-eye with Tethys' giant Odysseus impact-crater. Cassini's close brush with the chaotic, tumbling Hyperion might tell us whether it is a rubble pile.

Scientists also hope to be able to shed more light on the following:

* The origin of the huge canyon-like feature named Ithaca Chasma on Tethys is not completely understood, but it might be related to the impact that created Odysseus.

* Hyperion's elliptical orbit and irregular shape influence its chaotic tumbling, which may have started after a giant impact with another body.

Click on the photo for larger view. Better yet, go visit the Cassini site and see the rest of them!

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