Video of Cassini's Hyperion flyby

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Dec. 4 2010 9:21 AM

Video of Cassini's Hyperion flyby

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):

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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.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!