Video of Cassini's Hyperion flyby

By Phil Plait | December 4, 2010 9:21 am

Yesterday, I posted some beautiful still images from the Cassini spacecraft’s flyby of Hyperion, a weird moon of Saturn. To research the images I posted (mostly to find out how far Cassini was from Hyperion when the images were taken), I went to the Cassini raw image archive, and saw dozens of such images. My first thought was, these would make a really cool animated sequence!

Ask, and ye shall receive (via the user planetaryprobes on YouTube):

Niiiice. You can see that when the video is smooth, lots of images were being taken rapidly, and there are several jumps, probably as the spacecraft was maneuvered to keep the moon centered. I don’t know much about the colorization technique used; the individual images are taken through various filters, but making that into a color animation is something of an art. The filter combinations change during the flyby, and you can see that as a change in the surface shading on Hyperion. I think you can ignore that, or look up the filters if you’re that invested in it! Still, it’s very interesting to see how the motion of the moon and spacecraft combine as the latter sweeps past the former.

Tip o’ the nose cone to BABloggee Ian Regan.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Cassini, Hyperion, Saturn

Comments (25)

  1. Chief

    Neat. I wonder though how a loose mass of larger material can be covered with finer material. I wouldn’t have thought the gravity of the object could be enough to gather as much fine material to fill in the gaps. Is/was there that much fine debris early on even with the planets in the way.

  2. Micah

    Ooooh, that’s beautiful! I would give ANYTHING to see a full animated sequence without gaps! Next best thing to witness a real fly-by in space.

  3. That is way cool. And I’m glad you explained the weirdness. At one point the surface is kind of out focus then suddenly very focused.

  4. Richard

    Assembling movies from Cassini raw images is fun. I’ve made a couple myself. Not quite as cool as the Hyperion flyby, but worth checking out:

  5. Trucker Doug

    Wow. Things like this really make me think about just how amazing the technology we play with really is. Almost a billion miles away, and it takes better pictures than I do.

  6. This is obviously an extension of the moon-landing conspiracy, because I don’t see any stars in that video. They faked it using a big rock out in the Arizona desert somewhere. This is all a trick by Big Astronomy. We know they only in it for the money and have to make this stuff up to keep those big socialist science grants rolling in. Yeah, that’s it.

  7. @5

    I totally know what you mean. How amazing are we?

  8. CameronSS

    I love these flyby videos. They look like shots from a sci-fi movie, except vastly more beautiful and real. It’s an excellent reminder that no matter how awesome Star Trek or Firefly gets, the real universe is even cooler.

  9. Adam

    That is amazingly. It looks like CGI that is hauntingly realistic. It’s just amazing to think of what it actually is. It still, after decades of following things like this, blows my mind to think that we can send cameras and scientific instruments to orbit other planets and return information to us on our puny little rock. Absolutely incredible! I would love to see a long run time lapse of evenly spaced frames… just to really feel like I was there.

  10. Nice work! They scaled & rotated some of the images during the animation to make the change from image to image smoother. Very nice. Next best thing to being there!

  11. Ian

    It’s stunning that we can go out there and take pictures like this. The video is gorgeous, but that moon sure is an ugly spud.

  12. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Ian : Oh I dunno, I don’t think I’d call Hyperion “ugly” exactly. I think it looks pretty interesting and neat.

    Beauty of course is always is in the eye of the beholder – &, frankly, I think this clip is a beauty! 😉

    Remarkably reminiscent, some of it anyhow, of the Rosetta fly-past of asteroid Lutetia in July this year. A very asteroidal / cometary nucleus looking moon isn’t it?

  13. Messier Tidy Upper

    The first ten seconds of the Hyperion clip remind me of the crescent Lutetia one here :

    &, again, here via Emily Lakdawalla’s superluminous blog :

    Scroll down – its the last image there just above the Rosetta Flugbahn (flight path) diagram. :-)

  14. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 4. Richard Says:

    Assembling movies from Cassini raw images is fun. I’ve made a couple myself. Not quite as cool as the Hyperion flyby, but worth checking out:

    Nice work there – thanks for creating & sharing those. :-)

    I really liked the first “Saturn’s Moons in Motion” one which was like seeing the view out a starship window. The Mimas occultation one was good too but I thought could have benefitted from being a bit longer perhaps with a slow motion replay? Just a thought. :-)

    PS. The ‘Cresscent Asteroid’ image I was referring to in #14 (awaiting moderation) above is the sixth image in the gallery if that helps.

  15. Tim G

    Hyperion seems like a good location to acquire propellant for a crewed mission to the Saturn system.

  16. Douglas Troy

    That is so amazing that we are able to see it so close up. You rock (ha ha) on with your bad selves Cassini team, and keep the pictures coming.

  17. Gary Ansorge

    12. Ian

    Space potato,,,wonder if it’s edible???

    Great pics.

    Gary 7

  18. NelC

    Is Hyperion the moon with the chaotic rotation?


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